It seems that I was late to the party with this one. Back in the Spring of 2012, Defiant Development launched Ski Safari. It’s a cute and fun skiing game. In a seemingly never-ending sea of iOS apps and games, it’s hard to stand out in the endless runner genre. I thought I pretty much had my fill with Tiny Wings and Agent Dash. But with Ski Safari, I was playing on my iPhone 4 like it was brand new.
At first, I was skeptical. I’ve already passed on the Wii U, XBOX One and PlayStation 4. My thinking is that I should be making games instead of playing them. While it’s harder to make a game, at least the loot is real. So when I saw an angry monkey as the Defiant Development logo, I wasn’t impressed. I even wondered if the game was broken. It seemed to take longer than usual to get to the title screen.
But with Ski Safari, it wasn’t too late to make a good first impression. In fact, after the first few minutes of playing, I could instantly tell that this game was entertaining. The music, the graphics, the theme, the design — it’s just a delightful mix of professionalism.
The game is simple. Tap the screen to jump. Hold the touch to rotate the skier “Sven” in a counter-clockwise motion. That’s how you can do tricks, such as back flips and cloud jumping. The real zaniness occurs by hopping on vehicles and animals. When you’re driving a snowmobile, with a Yeti, a Penguin and an eagle, it’s like controlled chaos. All the while, a giant avalanche is approaching. The experience is exciting. It’s a surprising amount of fun from a phone.
With all of the snow, Ski Safari puts me in a holiday mood. Although, there is a serious side of the game. In a Super Mario like fashion, Sven can collect coins on his run. These coins can be used to unlock upgrades, costumes and new levels. I’m still saving up for the Christmas level – The North Pole. Currently, I have 14,347 gold coins. 20,000 are needed to unlock the level. I could have done it already, but I unlocked the Halloween level first. (I felt that I should go in order.)
So, that’s the double-edged sword of Ski Safari. It has RPG grinding elements, like leveling up and farming. Yet, this is what adds replay value to the game. The game can be played in short bursts, but it feels like I’m progressing towards a larger goal. In-App Purchases can help make short work of the game’s many challenges, but the game doesn’t seem to force these purchases.
Sliding down the mountainsides, collecting coins, playing with the animals and controlling vehicles is nice way to relax. Yeah, I probably should be working on my book project instead, but I actually found the game to be inspirational. My own apps lacked the wide appeal that Ski Safari has. In addition to the cool artwork, kids and adults can both enjoy the simple concept of speeding down a hill. I’ve been thinking about creating some casual games for a while now, but I was wondering if the market is just too competitive. Hasn’t it all been done before? Ski Safari shows that there’s still room for another good game.
One of the downsides about Ski Safari is that it starts to hurt my eyes after playing it. On an iPhone 4, Sven is really tiny. It’s hard to keep track of what’s ahead, especially if my right thumb is blocking the view. It makes me wonder if I should upgrade / expand my Apple tech. With a newer iPhone, I might be able to use an Apple TV to put the game on a big screen. And since Ski Safari is a universal binary, maybe I should get an iPad Air. Yet, the reason why I like Ski Safari is that it’s a 99¢ surprise. I don’t want to waste time or money. So, as a quick way to relax my brain, it’s a great game.
But if you find yourself struggling with Ski Safari, here are some hints…
- If you plan on playing Ski Safari a lot, without using In-App Purchases to get gold, the Coin Magnet should be one of your first upgrades. At 8,000 gold, it’s expensive. But by catching coins that would have been missed, the Coin Magnet can net far more than 8,000 coins.
- If you’re playing to beat your high score, don’t use the Coin Magnet. Collecting coins naturally can add to the combo bar and increase points.
- Keep the combo bar going for bonus points. To raise the maximum multiplier, collect stars and raise rank.
- You can boost through some obstacles. So if a rock is up ahead, a quick back flip could help clear the way.
- If you’re having trouble completing a certain challenge, using an animal/vehical at the very beginning of the run may help. This can also be economical. Instead of buying rockets, the related challenges may be achievable by riding a rocket from the home cabin.
- Surprisingly, even the bed can lead to a star. (Sleep through the credits.) In the shop, the bed can be upgraded for better jumping. Empty stars above the shop item/upgrade shows how many stars are exclusively associated with that purchase. Certain stars/challenges are exclusive to maps too.
- Sven doesn’t get a lot of points for solo back flips. Even a triple back flip is just 150 points. Flipping on the snowmobile can great for points though, especially with a 12x multiplier. The problem is that a bad landing can ruin the multiplier.
- The snowmobile, the wolf or even the sliding yeti are great for covering long distances. Their extra speed can help Sven stay ahead of the avalanche. The animals that hop on for the ride can work like shields, allowing Sven to smash through rocks and other smaller obstacles.
- If you’re having trouble completing the challenge that requires you to slide while frozen, try freezing with the snowmobile. While trying to tap out of the ice block, Sven should slide further and faster than normal.
- One of the hardest challenges is skiing 5000 meters without any animals or vehicles. I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I think I might have started with an eagle from a very high spot. By tapping while falling, Sven can cover a lot of ground. He also lights up with boost power.