Don’t let the monochrome environments of Solipskier throw you; the game really has to be experienced to be enjoyed. It takes the concept of 2D skiing to a whole new level by allowing you to control the bumps, jumps, sharp descents and uphill climbs simply by touching the screen. The game is constantly pushing you forward so it feels amazingly natural as you’re only directly controlling the elevation of the terrain and not the velocity or balance of your character.
Of course, there are things you can do to speed up the game lest the skier lose momentum. The goal is to pass through the green gates in order to gain some speed, whilst avoiding the red gates that kill you upon contact. There’s also areas that don’t allow you to draw terrain in them, so you must be going fairly fast—you must draw a ramp just before reaching the dead zone in order so that you don’t fall off the screen. In addition, you have what the game calls ‘tunnels’; large clusters of blue gates that can rocket both your speed and your score should you pass through the majority of them.
Do well and you’ll be rewarded; as your speed increases so does your chance to grab some big air. Big jumps are scored with a panel of three judges holding up cards at the bottom of the screen, and it’s usually at this point your score will start to increase very rapidly. You’ll know that you’re doing well when you’re going so fast that your headphones fall off and the fast paced rock stops abruptly; a really nice touch. Of course, when the gameplay is this good you can’t help yourself from taking another go; we can only attribute this to an idea that’s extraordinarily simple but executed perfectly. Indeed, you can [play it in your browser] with Flash; but with touch controls this good, why would you want to?
The game has a few caveats; notably, you can’t pause whilst in the game, plus you can’t play your own music without starting a game, killing yourself and then muting the game’s sound; you of course then lose the sound effects. It would have been really good to have let you play your own music and then have it cut off as the headphones disappeared! The game does come with online high scoring though, powered by OpenFeint.
It’s almost too easy to recommend Solipskier; what you’re getting here is a slick package that will play on both your iPad and your iPhone and some fantastic, fluid gameplay that’s a blast to experience. Overall, an excellent game and an excellent use of your $2.99. Right then, time for another round.