Poll: Skiing Game?

Bit of an odd one this. I just received a promotional link to this free skiing game on Greentube, and it reminded me of one of the oddities of my game reviewing career: the annual skiing game. Each and every year I review a skiing game. I did one for PC Gamer a couple of months ago. It was so indistinct that I can’t even remember what it was called. In fact, what makes skiing games so exceptional in the scheme of games is their utter lack of identity. Each one is the same as the last, and none of them really have the kind of vigor and excitement that is owed to the experience of flying down the side of a mountain on two strips of fibreglass. Yes, I’ve been skiing, I love skiing. But…

So, yes, I understand the appeal of most sports games in their champion-on-the-world fantasy-fulfillment way, and even snowboard has a certain youth-culture extreme-sports niche to fill: but who is buying the skiing games? And why, when so many other games have graduated to higher and higher accomplishments of simulation or arcade abstraction, are the skiing games so conservative and unambitious?

And so I ask you, RPS readers, have you ever bought, or intentionally played a skiing game? While you answer that I’m going to Google up a decent curling sim. That’s a real man’s winter sport.

29 Comments

  1. Flint says:

    I refuse to answer the main question and instead follow the random joke tangent: there actually are a few decent curling games, a local games magazine tested the ones (er, whopping three) on the market last year: look out for names Curling 2006 (the test winner) and Shotstone. Haven’t played either, but some perverted curiousity in me would want to give it a try.

  2. Bob Arctor says:

    I’m sure it must be middle class dads at Christmas.

    I want a Bowls game.

  3. essell says:

    Namco’s Alpine Racer arcade was good, but in a way you can only do with an arcade (or maybe the Wii). The lack of skiing games is probably largely down to how the interest and depth of skiing is very hard to translate into an interesting, keyboard / mouse / joypad control system.

  4. Adam Baum says:

    I have intentionally played a skiiing game. It was a couple of years ago, and like yourself I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called. The graphics weren’t bad, but all in all it felt more like sitting in front of my computer playing a skiiing game than it felt like I was actually skiiing.

    As it happens the only skiiing game I’ve played prior to that one was about 25 years ago on my Intellivision console. I actually enjoyed that one. I think it was called “Skiiing”.

  5. MCHN says:

    Ski or die! That was ace. It was on the Amiga, though. I’m not sure it ever came out on the PC.

  6. Dan says:

    My sister had that Herman Meir skiing last year. And I borrowed it ¬_¬ I thought it was quite fun, and gave a good impression of speed, although the controls were certainly iffy!

  7. essell says:

    Hehe, rock on, MCHN. Ski or Die was great.

  8. Flint says:

    And to actually leave a comment on-topic, the only skiing game I’ve played was the one that came with one of the old Windows. The one that you could never finish up properly because a white, unavoidable monster-thing would randomly run from the edge of the screen and eat you. The name eludes me.

    That monster used to frighten me as a little kid.

  9. Evo says:

    Look at my post Flint :P

  10. Flint says:

    Oh man, that’s awesome :D

  11. Jack LeMaster says:

    I remember that Winter Games by Accolade (which was made for a variety of consoles; I played it on the Genesis) had a pretty passable skiing event, but that could be nostalgia talking.

  12. Piratepete says:

    As a Gold Grade skiier I can confirm that none of these games confer the real joy of skiing. That is skiing at full pelt over the front of a learners skis making them panic and fall over in the process. An element that was also sadly lacking from the Arcade Ski racer game. They also singularly fail to convey the sheer unbrindled joy of skiing with reckless abandon around Germans who get very irate at your lack of politeness.

    Piratepete youngest ever to go down the White Lady in the Caingorms circa 1978

  13. Jack LeMaster says:

    Oops, I take it back. That was actually The Games: Winter Challenge for Genesis. Looking at the screenshots now, I can’t imagine that this was any sort of actually realistic skiing simulator.

  14. The_B says:

    Does the “avoiding the huge snowball” minigame on Warioware count?

    :(

  15. terry says:

    I remember rocking the hotdogging stage on Winter Games, that had a pretty good biathlon and skijump too iirc. Epyx on their usual form, I guess.

  16. bobince says:

    Have yet to play a really entertaining skiing game, but if I ever manage to get the time to produce one I will.

    What you want is a Sim/Theme-style bit in which you can place the pistes, lifts, bars, snow-cannons etc. over the mountain and watch the lemming public go round injuring themselves in your resort. Then couple that with a traditional 3D racing bit over the pistes you’ve built, and built-in licensed maps from real resorts, and you’ve got a whole bunch of awesome.

  17. terry says:

    Simgolf: Winter Edition :D

  18. fluffy bunny says:

    I bought and enjoyed Ski Racing 2006, from Coldwood Interactive and JoWooD. It is a very enjoyable game, with responsive controls where you really need to get “in the zone” to succeed. Too bad JoWooD, in their infinite wisdom, decided to use another developer for the 2007-edition.

  19. Al says:

    I had the official Lillehammer Winter Olympics game on the Amiga, but, as a skier myself, the skiing part of that was deeply dissapointing. Both Alpine and Nordic. I rocked at the Bobsleigh though.

  20. Rockeye says:

    I had Lillehammer Winter Olympics for the Game Gear because it was cheap. The best skiing event was the moguls, or maybe ski jump. The actual downhill/giant slalom/super g/slalom events weren’t great.

  21. Vollgassen says:

    I haven’t played a skiing game I’ve enjoyed since Skifree… Well.. I haven’t played a skiing game since I enjoyed Skifree.

    Sequel? Remake? I’d be down.

    Skiing down the side of a mountain trying to outrun an abominable snowman.

  22. DragonSix says:

    There’s actually a curling sim, in Time Splitters Future Perfect. It was a fun bonus :p

  23. Lu-Tze says:

    SkiFree has and always will be fantastic.

    Winter Olympics for the PC was great until I realised that you could use BOTH Enter keys as the hammer to win button. This effectively doubled my ability at winning about half of the events.

    On the subject of “extreme” skiing, SSX:On Tour let you choose skiiers instead of snowboarders, and I know a few people who that really catered to, sadly though I know about 5x as many people who snowboard and didn’t give a toss.

  24. Nallen says:

    Never in all my days.

  25. iainl says:

    Firstly, I’m morally obliged to say “Horace Goes Skiing”. So, Horace Goes Skiing.

    But I also bought SSX On Tour specifically because it introduced the option of skiiers rather than the usual boring snowboarders. Then I discovered that the actual game was a load of rubbish in comparison to Amped 3, and sold it again. Oh well.

    The joys of skiing for me are:

    1) “oh **** I’m going to die if I go any faster”. This is obviously somewhat difficult for a videogame to imply at a visceral level, which is how come I’m able to get round a virtual Nuerburgring in anything less than about 10 minutes, stand up in virtual gunfights or whatever.

    2) Pretty scenery. No, even Amped 3 isn’t pretty enough to make me aimlessly wander down a mountain for very long.

    3) The physical joy of reading the snow underfoot to pick a good line through the soft (but not too soft) stuff, where the grip lies and so on. Actually, I thought 1080 on the N64 did a better job of this than most snow-based games. But when you can’t feel it through your boots the reward just isn’t there.

    So by the time that downhill skiing reaches a computer screen, it’s just a driving game with funny controls. One where the track and scenery are all various shades of white, and there aren’t any other racers to overtake.

  26. Snowboard Site says:

    I might just be biased because I love snowboarding (in real life), but how come snowboarding games can be awesome, yet skiing games always always suck? I mean, SSX tricky rocks. I cannot even for the life of me think of a comparable skiing game.

  27. Tak says:

    I’ve never skied, but I imagine it’s for the same reason that target-shooting games generally aren’t any fun. There is a real skill (and subsequent personal satisfaction) in being able to put something .22 of an inch in the same spot as another something .22 of an inch from 100 yards away. Skiing, though I don’t know the ends and out, I’m sure has that same sort of sensation. It’s far too… tactile? There is so much that you just have to ‘feel’ when shooting (and skiing, if so) that will not for the foreseeable future translate into a video game.

    When you have something that in real life has a very small margin of injury (Olympic target shooting and Olympic skiing) and a high…return on emotional investment, it’s not going to translate well to a simulation. Paint ball games are the same way. But something with a very high risk of injury or death (high speed racing, combat) that most people will never experience translate well, because frankly we have no clue how it’s supposed to be (and at least in the case of combat never want to find out).

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