Touchgrind is a skateboarding simulator for your iPhone. The first thing that comes to mind for many when thinking of skateboarding + video games is the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. Touchgrind is actually more like EA’s skate. than THPS, with a focus on realistic-feeling controls and freeform skating rather than over-the-top tricks and scenarios.
Touchgrind makes sure you know what you’re up to. With instructions on everything from how to move forward to how to link together tricks, you won’t be left to figure things out on your own.
I used to skateboard my butt off when I was a kid, and I felt back at home. The graffiti’d options menu, make-your-own label fonts, and the warm-up mode stating “Don’t embarrass yourself. Grab your board and go practice.” all gave the game an air of skaterdom.
These controls make plenty of sense once you learn them. They also work surprisingly well. You can do many of the things you can do on a real board, including controlling your nose and tail independently, balancing during a grind, and determining the speed and direction of flip tricks by the speed and direction you flick with.
Mess around in Warmup, beat your best trick score in Jam Session, or wow the judges in Competition. Touchgrind provides various ways to play.
I totally didn’t expect this game to work as well as it did. I remember Tech Decks as a total tease - I never once landed a kickflip with my fingers. Thankfully, pulling moves off in Touchgrind is relatively painless. The game doesn’t punish you for failure either, which I thought was nice. Goofing around in warmup or jam session modes was fun, and I felt like I was progressing fairly nicely.
I was also surprised at how legitimate the game felt. The board’s behavior and physics were believable and familiar. I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that some or all of the team members who designed this game were skaters themselves. The earlier comparison to skate. is a good one - the motions you use to do tricks feel like they match up with the tricks you’re doing.
There was also a pretty extensive selection of boards to unlock. Unlockables, in my experience, are never a bad thing. They generally serve to motivate a player and extend the play experience. The board graphics were pretty awesome as well, and seemed to feature designs from various artists.
Aside from the core game mechanic, there’s not much to Touchgrind. The core game mechanic is amazingly solid and is great to play around with, but I didn’t feel sucked in or compelled to continue once I felt decently skilled at the controls. All there really is to pull a player along is the board unlockables, and those didn’t really feel worth it to me.
The super-zoomed in point of view makes it VERY tough to know where you’re going or to line up a grind or even a jump from a ramp. The game’s inclusion of icons that serve as a sort of compass is supposed to counteract this, but I found that it wasn’t good enough. Getting around was a hassle because you are unable to avoid obstacles consistently. You can zoom out to see the entire park, but can’t move around from that perspective.
I felt like I wanted the ability to tap a spot on the zoomed out view to spawn there. Maybe in a future update, the game could benefit from that, or even a few points the player can tap to teleport to that line them up with a few obstacles.
Touchgrind is a game with a hugely well-executed control scheme that suffers from a lack of depth and visibility. Unfortunately I can’t think of a better way to let players see where they’re going - zooming out further would hamper the controls. I’m going to recommend Touchgrind to fans of skateboarding or skating games. If you are really into just skating around and pulling street tricks, this game will entertain. If you’re looking for a well-rounded gaming experience, seek elsewhere.