We Tested out the Top 10 Ski and Snowboard Games on the App Store
Here's what to do if you can't afford to go on an actual ski or snowboard holiday...
If you're anything like us, in the months leading up to winter you'll inevitably spend some of your time staring forlornly out of the nearest available window; daydreaming about skiing and/or snowboarding through the freshest pow imaginable. Sometimes, when we're letting our minds wander like this, we'll end up shouting out things like "Nice carve, dude" only to realise then that we're still in the office and there's a very important business meeting happening on the table next to us. Such is life.
Anyway, one mildly amusing way of time-killing in the months leading up to another season of mucking about in the white stuff is by downloading a skiing/snowboarding game for your phone and then playing it through squinted eyes. Heck, if you squint hard enough while playing next to an open fridge you might be able to momentarily trick your brain into thinking you're actually skiing/snowboarding in real life.
"Time has lost all meaning now. You and this very addictive game have merged..."
To help you separate the good snow games from the less good snow games, we've tested out 10 of the most popular ones currently available on app shops like the Play Store. And then, because playing them didn't really feel enough like work, we've written down our thoughts on them; thoughts, which if you so choose, you can look at below.
1) Skiing Yeti Mountain
"What are you doing?" says your girlfriend, as you crouch over your phone on the sofa in a state of heightened concentration; sweat dripping from every pore, tongue stuck out at a slight angle like midfield maestro Xavi when he's making yet another defence splitting pass.
Your silence takes on a life of its own, expanding into every corner of the room.
Time has lost all meaning now. You and this very addictive game have merged, become one with each other; totally synced. Your girlfriend's leaving you. Of course she is. She's packing up her things and getting ready to walk out the front door, never to return. But it's alright. It's all going to be alright. You have 'Skiing Yeti Mountain', and that's all you've ever needed.
2) Alpine Ski III
'Alpine Ski III' is a third-person skiing game where you control a skier by tilting your phone from side to side in a way that'd amaze/terrify your grandparents in equal measure. The rigid skier moves like he's in desperate need of a prostate exam and the graphics have that whole PS1 thing going on which'll make you yearn for that time in your life when all-night Crash Team Racing marathons, fuelled by unhealthy levels of Sunny Delight, was part of your reality.
Best thing about the game? Probably the hilarious way your skier curls up in the snow after crashing into a tree. Weighed down by life. Weighed down by an unshakeable feeling he's merely a puppet on a string; controlled by forces beyond his world, he simply collapses. Poor bastard.
3) Alto's Adventure
Play 'Alto's Adventure'. Play 'Alto's Adventure' because it's fun, addictive, and cheaper than going to Peru in real-life like that "gap yah" cliche you went to Uni with recently did. Best described as a sort of 'endless snowboarding scroller', 'Alto's Adventure has that pick-up-and-play quality which you'll enjoy from first go to last.
Gorgeous mountain-filled backdrops that switch effortlessly from day to night, ludicrously enjoyable backflip sections, and a wide range of playable characters (including a llama called Felipe who shreds better than you ever will); 'Alto's Adventure' is an "oh, go on... just one more go" snowboarding game that you'll play until your thumbs hurt. And then play some more, because why the hell not?
4) Ski Safari 2
'Ski Safari 2', a game where you can choose between skiing and snowboarding, is some properly fun animal-filled madness; the kind of thing David Attenborough might come up with if he was on an all-night sesh in Morzine.
It starts with an avalanche knocking down your wooden cabin and firing your bed, with you still in it, down the slopes at a ferocious speed. And then, because who doesn't sleep with their board attached to their feet, you're hopping out of bed and tearing up the slopes like a powder god. Things get surreal when you start collecting creatures and find yourself "snowboarding" on the head of a wooly mammoth that's being ridden like a horse by a Yeti, with a penguin clinging desperately to the tail. We enjoyed this one.
5) Ski Jump
Learning and then mastering violin to a Grade 8 standard. Successfully climbing Everest without oxygen. Becoming fluent in Japanese, both written and spoken. Piloting a combat helicopter after necking seven pints of IPA, and a whisky chaser. Reading the complete works of Shakespeare without having a nap. Avoiding Ed Sheeran on FM radio. Standing up on a surfboard for more than 0.5 seconds.
All of these things above are, undoubtedly, very difficult things to do. But none of them, not a single one of them, are harder than getting remotely competent at the phone game 'Ski Jump'. There is surely nobody on Earth, apart from maybe the person who made it, who is anything close to half decent at it.
6) Skiing Fred
In 'Skiing Fred', you play a ginger-haired snowboarder called Fred (he's not a skier, as the title would have you believe). This redhead, who FYI looks the spitting image of a Blue Moon/Guinness enthusiast we used to sit next to at work, has to snowboard away from the Grim Reaper and dodge a variety of on-slope hazards like giant-biting teeth, rotating saw blades, and blood-soaked spikes.
Beneath it's kid-friendly, Cartoon Network, style graphics, 'Skiing Fred' is a game that's surprisingly brutal. Steer Fred into one of the numerous deathtraps and watch as his body gets sliced into multiple pieces and the screen gets splattered in crimson. Don't be surprised if your boy Timmy, aged 5 and a half, is never quite the same after playing this.
7) Top Ski Racing
Imagine our disappointment when we discovered that the 'Top Ski Racing' game turned out to be the 'Alright Ski Racing' game. It's not that it's a bad game. Not by any stretch. It's just that we felt like this could have been so much better.
Positive: skiing a perfect line through the gates is extremely satisfying, and will remind you of that time you convinced yourself you were an Olympic-level talent because you'd just learned to parallel turn. Negative: the speed of it all often feels like you're not really racing, merely cruising down at a leisurely pace like your Dad when he's overdone it at lunch.
8) Ski Freestyle Mountain
Taking something that's cool and fun like freestyle skiing, and making it boring is quite an achievement. Credit where it's due though, because 'Ski Freestyle Mountain' is a game that manages to do precisely that.
We know that, technically speaking, nailing genuinely impressive ski tricks in real-life is a difficult and complex thing to do. That's why they're impressive. On a phone game though, something you're going to play for maybe ten minutes on the commute, you want landing double corks to be easy and intuitive. Making tricks as confusing and headache-inducing as filling in a self assessment tax return after being punched in the head is not a recipe for a good time.
9) Stickman Ski Racer
Remember when you were at school and you spent your maths lesson doodling skiers going sideways down impossibly steep slopes? Remember how great that was? Halcyon days, indeed.
'Stickman Ski Racer' is a glorious throwback to those times, even chucking in the graph paper from your old maths book as a backdrop for added effect. Easy to get into initially while also being very difficult to master, this is our kind of phone-based ski game. Get stuck in, pal.
10) Neon Ski
Best played in a darkened room with the Tron soundtrack blaring from surround-sound speakers. 'Neon Ski' is how skiing will be in 2243, when all the ice-caps have melted, there hasn't been snow in the Alps for 200 years, and the only way you can shred is by plugging a USB stick into the back of your skull.
'Neon Ski' is futuristic, it's colourful, and it's strangely satisfying to play when you get the speed of your skier absolutely spot on. When Hollywood does finally exhaust all possible film franchises and remakes of the remakes, there'll no doubt come knocking at the 'Neon Ski' door and make a movie about Ryan Gosling ripping it down beams of light. It'll be Blade Runner 2049 x Ski Sunday, and it will be glorious.
'Skiing Yeti Mountain' and 'Alto's Adventure' are the standouts here. Both games have a cool aesthetic, addictive gameplay, and a nicely balanced learning curve. The less said about the low-octane Microsoft Excel spreadsheet thrills of 'Ski Freestyle Mountain' and impossible-to-comprehend-how-difficult-it-is-unless-you've-played-it difficulty of 'Ski Jump', the better.
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