Right now, we’re seeing a whole lot of games that harken back to the Atari and Commodore 64 era. They’re generally easy to make and have an addictive and competitive element that spreads virally. One button controls, instantly accessible and requiring little grey matter to play, these kind of games are as popular as ever. The turgid (and some would say murkily successful) Flappy Bird kickstarted this renaissance, the infinitely better CrossyRoads refined it to an art and now we’re seeing many such games appear. It makes a lot of sense for developers – why spend a year building a huge, complex RPG for a niche market when you can spend a few months on a much simpler action game that appeals to a larger audience? (One such answer is, because that’s what everyone’s doing, you’ll be lost in a sea of clones.)
Skiing Yeti Mountain from Featherweight Games is one such game – a slalom skiing game using a gameplay mechanism first pioneered in the C64 game “Ski” and used in countless games since. However, in Yeti, the mechanism is controlled by one button , and indeed the controls feel tight. You turn quickly, your skier turns quickly. Little snow puffs pop up, the screen shakes when you hit trees and so on.
The aim of the game is a simple one – ski down the mountain, dodging trees and ensuring you’re on the right side of a slalom flag. Other characters pop up in the game and challenge you – they follow well trodden tropes such as the ‘wise teacher’ and ‘obnoxious ski-bro’ but they add a welcome bit of flavour to the game. The game also ramps up in difficulty very quickly, adding ice, cliff jumps and time limits on tracks. There are outfits to unlock and new mountains to conquer, so there’s a bit of longevity there too.
Pixel Art is very popular right now, and this game uses it to mixed effect. There seems to be a bit of an inconsistency in the pixel sizes they’re using in the game. Huge, blocky pixels are used for the trees and mountain slopes, yet small, higher definition pixels are used for the skier and character portraits. It looks a little odd, but doesn’t detract too much from the game. Interestingly, this game was made with the ever popular Unity and shows that the engine is not just for 3D games and worth checking out if you’re interested in making a game yourself.
Skiing Yeti Mountain is a free game, with a one off ‘Unlock Ads’ IAP button. The developers have stated they’ll donate half their proceeds to charities supporting the recent Nepal earthquake. This is a generous gesture, and as a byproduct, (for the more cynical) a savvy way of differentiating yourself from other games and picking up a bit of much needed press attention.
Look… this game isn’t going to change your life but it has tight controls and a nice aesthetic, so we recommend at least a quick play and maybe a donation if you’re feeling altruistic.