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15 February, 2014

Games for Winter Olympics Fans

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a whole bunch of really fit people doing things that are really hard to do in Russia at the moment. It happens every four years and it’s called the Winter Olympics.

For us mere mortals, cheering on our country’s finest from the comfort of our warm homes, the most difficult part of this two week spectacle is dismounting the couch to refill our drinking vestibules and chip bowls. But how do we fill in the gaps during the ad breaks and when the athletes are sleeping, but we're still high on our sugar rush?

We’ve selected a couple of high quality Winter sports themed games so you can participate in the madness without the inconvenience of broken bones and busted heads. Snow is cold, and ice is hard, so stay on the couch, get comfy, and read on: we’ve chosen something old, something new and something upcoming.

First up is Ski Safari from Australian development company Defiant Development. The auto-running genre is one of the most crowded in the App Store, and it takes something special to get noticed. Two years ago, a little guy with a big heart named Sven got many of us hooked on helping him stay ahead of an avalanche for as long as possible. Sven starts every game snoring soundly in his bed until rudely awakened by the avalanche, and from that point it’s a simple exercise of tapping anywhere on the screen to jump obstacles and do backflips in order to help him stay on his skis.

It sounds simple, and it is, but that’s part of what makes it so great. Anyone can pick it up and learn to play it on their first try, but it’s the polish, execution and charm of Ski Safari that will keep you coming back for seconds and thirds. There have been multiple updates since its first release, adding new mountains to ski, outfits to collect and vehicles to help you escape the relentless wall of snow always at your back. And be warned, you’ll be whistling the theme song around your home for days. Grab it here.

For something new, we have SuperPro Snowboarding from DreamKit Games. I’ve been playing this all afternoon and DreamKit has absolutely nailed it. The age-old adage of easy to learn, yet hard to master fits well here.

Controls involve tilting your device left and right to flip either way, buttons to perform various grabs, a wheel to spin your snowboarder laterally and a jump button which you hold to crouch and release to jump. After some comprehensive tutorial levels you’ll eventually be combining all of them together to perform tricks and combos in what is a very deep and satisfying system.

As you play you’ll earn coins to unlock gear, upgrade your tricks and level-up your rider. A fun addition is the ability to replay a video of your run and share it online. With thousands of trick combos possible, it’s nice to have proof of a particularly skilled run or maybe just a run of really freakish luck.

Excellent rag doll physics and smooth animation, combined with detailed backgrounds of crisp snowcapped mountains all help to tie this awesome package together. Grab it here.

For something a little more surreal and stylised, Jared Bailey’s upcoming Cubed Snowboarding looks to fit the bill. The visuals are in the style of two of his other games, Cubed Rally Racer and Cubed Rally Redline, but removing the cars and replacing them with snowboarders. There is something very friendly and inviting about this art style, and Cubed Snowboarding is perfect for those five minute stints during ad breaks. Bailey has already submitted it to the App Store so it should be out this coming week in order to ride the Winter Olympic wave of goodwill. Check out the trailer below.

Also be sure to check out Issue 1 of Grab It - The Game Discovery App. It includes 22 in-depth reviews of indie iPad games, 14 exclusive interviews and five big features including our big reveal for the amazing Thralled.

Garry Balogh

    - Ski Safari
    - Ski Safari: Adventure Time
    - SuperPro Snowboarding
    - Cubed Rally Racer
    - Cubed Rally Redline

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