A way too endless skier
Mathematical! Defiant Development has taken their mobile endless skier game Ski Safari and given it the full Adventure Time treatment this week! But while Ski Safari: Adventure Time feels right at home in the wide range of quirky canon that accompanies the cult-favorite Cartoon Network TV show, does it also have that addictive blend of endless gameplay to match, and to give it that much needed lasting appeal? Or does it simply find itself caught in a candy-encrusted avalanche that stops any fun to be had in its tracks?
In the game, players take control of Adventure Time series hero Finn, as the boy gets abruptly woken up from a slumber and is immediately sent on a careening ski adventure down some never-ending natural hills throughout the Land of Ooo. Simply tapping on the screen causes Finn to leap through the air, while holding down on the screen will execute some awesome in-air flips for a seriously algebraic score bonus. You’ll also have the help from numerous other Adventure Time characters along the way, like Jake, Marceline, and Princess Bubblegum, who can all be utilized in different ways by Finn to keep him skiing (and sometimes even flying) in the utmost of style.
The biggest strength of Ski Safari: Adventure Time is in Defiant Development’s extremely close representation of the original source material, right down to the bouncing soundtrack and Finn’s accompanying shriek of “Ski Safari!” at the start of the app. Everything from the colorful illustrations to the actual animations look like something straight out of an episode of the quirky TV show, and Adventure Time fans will definitely find a lot to love here, although sometimes the screen can move so fast that trying to key-in on a few of the finer visual details results in an unwanted dizzying effect. You’ll start the game out by skiing through the cottony pink Candy Kingdom, but the Ice Kingdom and Mystery Mountains can also be purchased by racking up those coins on your skis.
Unfortunately, the overt kiddie nature of Ski Safari: Adventure Time also winds up being responsible for the endless runner’s biggest downfall: the game is just too easy. And when I say “too easy,” I mean effortlessly easy, almost to the point where all of the upgrades that you’re working towards unlocking don’t even matter, because there are so very few ways to be hit with that Game Over screen. For instance, the very first time I started up the game, I reached an obscene distance of over 30,000m, and I actually had to make a conscious effort to make myself lose so I could move on to other aspects outside of the main action.
It seems that there’s really only two ways you can actually lose in Ski Safari: Adventure Time, and that’s if you run into a rock or horribly botch a backflip and end up landing on your head. But in both cases, you’ll still have ample time to tap on the screen and right yourself up before the slow moving avalanche comes up from behind and overtakes you. Literally everything else you can collide with on your runs will end up helping you in one way or another, as Finn will effortlessly straddle every creature that comes along to use for some fanciful new way of skiing. One time I tried to collide with an evil-looking wolf that had hopped in my path just for the sake of ending my run, only to have Finn leap on the wolf’s back and keep on skiing like nothing had even happened.
As mentioned before, the almost nonexistent difficulty of the game renders a lot of the supplementary items and upgrades you can earn fairly pointless from an actual gameplay perspective. There are tons of things you can buy in the game store to accent your skiing experience, from offbeat new costumes for Finn to wear and special thrones you can ski on, to the typical power-up boosters like coin magnets and score multipliers, to upgrades for your secondary ski-assist characters, like faster flipping for the Banana Guard or greater “beard flaps” for the Ice King.
You’ll still want to be buying as many of these upgrades as you can, though, since almost all of the in-store prices are extremely lofty for how many coins you’ll earn on even your most monstrous of runs; but the whole thing just seems rather redundant after a while. The only hints of actual progression come in the form of missions, which task you with doing things like jumping over 3 cabins with a Jelly Bean, or landing 5 backflips inside of caves for an added rank boost. You’ll get to work towards completing three of these missions at a single time, and while they do give you something else to do besides just landing flip after flip, their overall presence is still largely unfelt.
So in the end, if you’re a big fan of the popular Cartoon Network TV show and just can’t get enough Adventure Time to fill up your day, then you’re sure to find something to love in Ski Safari: Adventure Time, as the game is incredibly faithful to the spirit and presentation of the source material. But if it’s actual gameplay that you’re in the market for, then it’s probably best to ski on down some other slope entirely: as the sheer lack of challenge or difficulty in the game makes this one literal endless runner that you’ll do everything in your power to actually make end.