This week I've gathered up some 2D snowboarding games that are not as good as being in the actual snow, but might be the perfect time-waster while we wait for winter to settle in.
As we hunker down for the winter months in the northern hemisphere, many are dreaming of another great season of winter sports. While there's probably nothing I can offer on the iPhone that will give you the feeling of snowboarding on powder-covered slopes, maybe these apps will make the days slip by a little bit faster.
This week's collection of iOS apps are all 2D snowboarding games. The first uses rag-doll physics as you pull off tricks down the mountain. The second has you playing as a rat on a snowboard going for distance. The third challenges you to master difficult tracks while pulling off big flips as you head to the finish line.
Super Trick Snowboarder ($1.99) is a 2D snowboarding game that uses rag-doll physics as you jump, flip, and spin down the slope, but it might be a bit too rag-doll for its own good. The game features nice-looking cartoonlike graphics as your snowboarder makes his way past obstacles while pulling off big tricks. The control system involves a snowboard on the left with four buttons for grabbing the front, back, and sides of your board in the air, while on the right you have buttons for jumping and rotating either clockwise or counterclockwise.
The problem with Super Trick Snowboarder is that the rag-doll physics might be a bit overdone. Even when traveling straight down the slope, your snowboarder will lean awkwardly from left to right, forcing you to compensate with the rotation buttons. What ends up happening is that most of the time you feel out of control. When you successfully pull off a trick, you end up feeling like you got lucky rather than like it was skill that made it happen. Still, with some practice, I was able to pull off several successful tricks, but it seemed harder than it needed to be.
Super Trick Snowboarder has two game modes and some customization options if you can get past the rag-doll playing style. Normal mode has you traveling down a finite hill with an altitude meter on the right so you know when you're getting close to the bottom. In endless mode, you go for distance trying to pull off tricks to get the highest score. Before you hit the slopes, you can change clothing and boards for a little bit of customization, and as you progress you'll be able to unlock more styles to give your rider a different look. None of these gives any type of bonus, so you'll be working to unlock items more for aesthetic purposes than to make your snowboarder better.
Overall, Super Trick Snowboarder is a fairly good 2D snowboarding game, but we think the rag-doll physics make the game harder than it needs to be to have fun. If you like the idea of barreling down the hill out of control (mostly), this game might be right for you.
Rat on a Snowboard (99 cents) is primarily a distance/survival game where you play as (you guessed it) a rat on a snowboard. In this game you're not trying to pull off big tricks; instead, you're simply trying to get as far as you can while avoiding obstacles.
You have a couple of control systems to choose from. The default layout lets you simply touch the screen to both jump and spin (to gain altitude and points while in the air). But I preferred switching to two buttons, one each for jumping and spinning, to feel like I was in more control.
When I initially tried this game I thought it was just a simple distance game and that there was not much to it. But with some practice, I was able to make my way past many obstacles and could see how it would be a good time-waster just to see how far I could get. There are also a couple of added game modes here including a random map distance mode; a mode where you try to avoid exploding meatballs that fall from the sky as you race; and a mode where you can master single maps and try to get the highest rating. The simple controls make Rat on a Snowboard extremely easy to pick up and play, and, like most distance games, it's perfect for when you just have a moment to play a game to kill some time.
Overall, with cute cartoon graphics, easy controls, and distance-style gameplay, Rat on a Snowboard is a fun diversion. If you like distance games and want to try something different from the usual fare, this is a good option.
iStunt 2 (99 cents) is a snowboarding sequel that adds enough extras and unique gameplay to make it a great time-waster and might be one of my favorite pick-up-and-play games this year. Just like in the original, you'll be challenged to snowboard on several complex courses that involve loops, jumps, tricks, and even snowboarding upside down. The control system uses the iPhone accelerometer to control your snowboarder, a couple of onscreen buttons for grab-type tricks, and screen swipes for jumping over gaps.
iStunt 2 is better in almost every way than the original, with better-designed tracks, better graphics, and more control options, but it does have some issues. Many of the tracks are so complex and require such precise moves that you'll end up racing tracks over and over to master the route without crashing. It's still enjoyable because there are a number of side challenges as well--finding and collecting all 10 stars in a level gets you the gold medal, and there are routes you can take that change your path to the finish line for variation. In the main game mode there is no time limit, so being a bit more adventurous pays off in getting more stars and more points. If racing for time is your preference, you can play the time trial mode to see just how fast you can complete each track.
iStunt 2 came out in March of this year, and I still play it quite often. The challenge of mastering the many tracks and gathering all 10 stars keeps me coming back for more and it's even fun just to jump in and play a single track while riding the bus to work, for example.
Overall, iStunt 2 is a big improvement with plenty of new content to challenge even the most experienced gamers. If you like 2D racing games, pulling off huge flip tricks over big gaps, and inevitably playing the same level several times to get it just right, you should definitely download this game.