iOS Mini-Review: Ski ChampionApril 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Posted in iOS Reviews | 3 Comments
Tags: iOS, iOS gaming, iPad games, iPhone games, iTunes, Majaka, Ski Champion, skiing games, slalom, slalom games, Sports games, video games
While the seasons have changed and the boys of summer have started the 2012 baseball season, you can still revisit winter fun with Ski Champion, a new iOS release by Majaka (Free, Appstore). Ski Champion sits alone in the handheld skiing market but being on top of the mountain by default does not have the developers at Majaka taking the bunny slopes with this effort. Packing in 14 different courses, tilt controls, and a leaderboard with medals and rankings, Ski Champion hits the high spots on Majaka’s first run out of the gate.
Ski Champion is a 2D slalom game where eclipsing certain time milestones will unlock additional courses as well as reward you with a medal based on your execution. The game rewards your slalom skills and understanding of the sport with time bonuses based on the number of flags you hit, which is imperative to advance in some cases. You get 100 ski passes to start, with the option to purchase more or wait an hour for another 15 to populate into your game. This works for casual gamers as you get a large sample size to try out the game and gives the developer an opportunity to make money from fans who wish to purchase passes in bulk instead of only getting a handful at time. I’m a big fan of this business model as the 100 passes (one pass = one run) last a good amount of time and you’re not obligated to pay upfront for a game you may not like nor have to suffer through a crappy free demo.
Ski Champion’s graphics suffice and I particularly like the Wide World of Sports “Agony of defeat” wipeout as you clip your way through cabins and trees. The focus in the game is the physics around the tilt-based controls. There are no buttons here, you’re strictly turning your device to navigate the runs and the response time is sharp and accurate. I never felt like I had to make exaggerated motions in order to steer which would negatively impact my ability to focus on the course. The game gives you a glimpse into where the next gate will be but most levels require a bit of memorization to pass the bronze medal time. This is a good thing.
Ski Champion is by no means a cakewalk when it comes to opening up all the mountains. While I advanced on my first run through the first two courses, I found the bronze level time for the third course, Dead Wood, incredibly challenging. I got a silver medal on the next course, Ice Bite, on my first try, before running into another buzzsaw with the fifth course, Holiday. It wasn’t that the layouts for the mountains were hard to ski, more so that the time required to pass required a near perfect run (for me at least). I don’t shirk away from a gaming challenge so this was welcome and it did keep me restarting the course after each crash or failed run to try again.
While not a skier, but as someone who has watched numerous Olympic competitions and suffered through Winter Games on different platforms, I could definitely appreciate the detail and effort Majaka put into Ski Champion. The view and controls are unique and the built-in replay value with medals, unlockables and leaderboards are staples of iOS games I enjoy.