Definitely living up to the “sim” aspect of its title, the controls are a formidable obstacle, but possibly not for the reason you’d think
While the Tony Hawk series and games like it have had quite a bit of popular success over the years, they’re clearly very arcade-y in nature and their control schemes are in line with that. It’s obvious that the people behind Session were looking to go in a very different direction, likely trying to come up with an experience a bit more akin to learning to skateboard in the real world, frequent falls, faceplants, and all. That I can respect, and I have no doubt there’s an audience that’s up for the challenge, but the problem first and foremost comes in the controls. What’s most odd here is that I found the necessary movements with the left and right analog sticks to trigger and execute tricks to be pretty smart, and after some practice it generally worked pretty well. The problem is more low-level but that makes it all the more aggravating… and it’s that trying to simply steer and go where you want to while setting up your tricks is far more challenging than it should be, and for a critical reason. You can mostly steer up to a point using the left analog stick, but the connection it has to tricks can make this inconsistent. To compensate the game then lets you use the Z triggers as well to steer left and right. But a problem specific to the Switch is that it has digital triggers, not analog, making that option a particularly jarring and bad one, with you trying to tap and feather just to keep your line while trying to use the sticks to pull of your trick. The result is frustrating for the wrong reason. While on another console with a controller with analog triggers I would imagine the story could be different, but on the Switch you’re really compromised from the get-go, and that’s before getting into the mucky visuals, pop-in, performance issues and that playing this portably with the shallow joycon joysticks is pretty painful.
Justin Nation, Score: