It’s a shame, then, that some of the level design choices don’t really pair up with the engine Toys for Bob has built this love-letter to 90s platforming games in. Loose and floaty physics, an abundance of different mechanics that often feel part-baked, and some design choices that feel sadistic – rather than simply difficult – leave this approach to Crash Bandicoot feeling less like a true sequel, and more like a licensed spin-off.
What Skater XL does well is make you obsess over an 8-set of stairs, or return again and again to a simple curb. You will keep going back to line up the perfect angle, the exact spot to crouch into an ollie, tre flip and land a crooked grind. That’s great, that’s street skating in its essence, and it’s an achievement to capture that. But outside of that microcosm, as soon as you pan out, it steps on its own shoelaces and stumbles into a bush.
That simplicity is overridden by originality and vigor, then – but I also know all too well that some fans of the older Paper Mario games will once again walk away a little disappointed. This is still undoubtedly no Thousand Year Door. Perhaps the next outing can bring back a little of that RPG depth – but regardless of that, this is still the best Paper Mario game in years.