Whether on the iPad or iPhone, Touchgrind holds a special spot in my heart. I used to be one of those punk “skaters” back in my day, and I happened to be pretty decent if I do say so myself. When my friends and I weren’t skateboarding, we were probably at school goofing off with what are called “techdecks.” Small finger sized skateboards, fully customizable and capable of pulling off neat tricks, pending you had some hand coordination skills.
Long over are those days – However with the release of Touchgrind HD and Touchgrind (iPhone/Touch) I’ve been able to relive those glory days with an extreme amount of fun and much less finger burn and bruised legs. Touchgrind presents the player with a 3D skateboard in a 3D environment full of ramps, rails and boxes. Its your job to master ollies, kick-flips, 360 flips, varial heel-flips and many more using a very precise two finger gesture system. Simply place a finger on the tail of the skateboard and another midway up and your already moving.
While at first the game may appear rather complicated to control, it’s actually very easy to understand as the game has a full tutorial mode to show you proper hand placement and the swipe gestures needed to perform all sorts of tricks. After a bit of time and practice you’ll be pulling off quite a few tricks and impressing your friends.
Touchgrind has three main gameplay modes. Warm up, a simple mode with no time limit or score keeping to worry about. Skate as long as you want and work to make those tricks look perfect. Jam session, a mode which allows you to compete against yourself for the best possible trick score. No limits here, just trying to get the highest trick scores. And finally, Competition, a mode that gives you 100 seconds to rack up the highest score possible by stringing together as many tricks you can within the time limit. The neat aspect of the competitive mode is that you are ranked online according to how well you perform.
The graphics in Touchgrind are fantastic. From the over-head view of your skateboard to the expansive 3D skate parks, its all top notch work and runs flawlessly. What’s even more outstanding is the sound effects. Coming from the skateboarding world, these sounds are absolutely spot on and just as I remember them. Half of the fun was landing that perfect 360 flip and hearing all 4 wheels touch down at the same time. Presentation certainly isn’t a factor to worry about with this title, Illusion Labs clearly spent a TON of time making this title shine. While Touchgrind is more about gameplay than content, there are a series of unlockable skateboards to collect as well as the ability to paste your own pictures on to the bottom of your board to add some personal flavor.
Regarding the differences between Touchgrind HD and Touchgrind for the iPhone/Touch, there is one major difference between the two versions…scale. Graphics, sound, content and gameplay all essentially remain the same, but with the iPad comes a much larger “vision” of the skatepark. Due to the iPhone’s screen size, it can be tough to pull off grinds due to not being able to see very far ahead of your skateboard. The iPad version remedies this with its larger screen, giving the player a much needed expanded view. If you’ve played the iPhone version for quite some time, you’ll get used to it perfectly fine and it wont hinder your gameplay. However, having both versions, I find I gravitate toward my iPad for more serious gaming sessions with Touchgrind. Another feature exclusive to the iPad is the split screen two player mode. The screen is essentially divided down the middle, each player has their own half, allowing you to compete against each other or simply have fun and skate around. It’s pretty amazing to play two-player mode on a single device and see it work flawlessly with how many swiping gestures that are happening on the screen at any given time. Well done Illusion Labs!
If you’re a skateboarding fan, you’ll absolutely love this game. It’s great fun and can be played in long or short bursts. The graphics are crisp and the sound is spot on. The iPad version is a bit on the pricey end ($7.99), but its worth it if you really enjoy this sort of gameplay. If you however aren’t a fan of skateboarding or sports in general, you’ll probably get bored with this title and simply wont understand the appeal.