In the charming Alto's Adventure platformer game for iPhone, you're a snowboarding herder, gathering llamas, collecting coins, and avoiding disapproving elders as you perform tricks boarding down the mountainside.
Easy to get going: The gameplay basics are easy to learn -- tap to jump and hold to perform snowboarding aerials or maneuvers -- but the challenge is timing your jumps to grind and flip as you ski down the slopes to earn coins, collect your llamas, and complete tasks to level up. As you gain levels, you unlock new snowboarders, each with various snowboarding strengths and weaknesses. One of them even runs the workshop you can visit to buy and upgrade items with coins you collect in the game.
Play for free with ads: For free, you have access to all the levels in the game. When you crash, however, the game periodically displays an ad to revive your character.
Or pay up: For $4.99, you can unlock the game and revive your character after a spill, with just a click. You can also buy a coin doubler -- a magnetic scarf that doubles every coin you collect -- but otherwise, everything you can acquire in the game -- through the Workshop -- you buy with coins you gather in game. Among the items you can buy are a helmet that protects you from a crash and items that can help you fly and hover and call llamas to you.
Zen-like: From the home screen, swipe left to get to Zen Mode, where you can play without distractions -- no scoring, no game over -- just you and the slopes. Zen Mode comes with an orchestral soundtrack. When you crash, tap the screen to get back to boarding where you fell.
Strangely enchanting: As you play, days and nights pass by and the weather changes. Combining the compelling visuals with the soothing soundtrack and ambient sounds of birds, bells, and even llamas (although they sound like sheep to us), the game creates a nice tension between the serene environment and the excitement of completing snowboarding aerials and maneuvers while avoiding rocks, chasms, campfires, and elders.
Nighttime activities can be challenging: Seeing obstacles ahead during a night run can be tricky. Adjusting the brightness on your phone can help.
Alto's Adventure is a captivating side-scroller for iPhone that offers surprisingly rich and rewarding levels of gameplay. The pace of the game is exciting without becoming frenzied, and a Zen Mode lets you snowboard in peace without having to worry about any achievements.