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Alto’s Adventure – Snowboarding Down Slopes, Picking Up Llamas

Indie developer Snowman recently released a new endless snowboarding game titled Alto’s Adventure for mobile, touchscreen platforms. The game uses beautifully clear animation to portray the characters, the action, and the ever changing landscape in the background. This is a game that starts out simply beautiful, and quickly becomes addictive with its easy controls and challenging objectives.

Alto’s Adventure is a 2D endless running snowboarding game for mobile devices that uses simple jump mechanics controlled by tapping the device screen. Players will snowboard down an endless, snowy mountain, passing by different objects and parts of the terrain and jumping to avoid rocks, campfires, and other hazards that will end that run immediately. Players can also tap and hold the screen to jump and start to backflip through the air, which provides points and a boost in speed upon a safe landing. Angling the board too much, however, leads to Alto, or whichever character the player is using at the time, to eat a bunch of snow in a sudden crash landing.

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Beyond that, players are simply challenged to reach the furthest distance they can, and to score as many points by creating trick combos, which is done by grinding along rooftops or wires, bouncing off of rocks, and jumping over chasms in succession before performing a successful landing. More combos lead to a bigger speed boost, which can be important for successfully making some difficult jumps, and for outrunning certain enemies devoted to chasing you and knocking you down. Alto’s Adventure also challenges players to “level up” by clearing three objectives. The objectives themselves get more challenging as the game progresses, and can include such tasks as grinding over a total of 3 rooftops, reaching 3,500 meters in a single run, or landing a triple backflip. By clearing these objectives and moving to the next level of challenges, players can eventually unlock characters with unique abilities, such as Maya who can spin faster than the other snowboarders but takes a bit longer to build up speed.

Players also work to collect llamas, coins, and certain power ups in order to get a bit of an advantage in lengthening their run: Namely a magnet to begin attracting coins from further away, and a feather that gives the player the ability to float over certain obstacles and safely land for a limited time. The coins can be used to purchase enhancements for each power up, and a more expensive flight suit for the player to equip to his riders. The flight suit, which is unlocked by performing a large number of combos and tricks, allows players to glide through the air for a limited amount of time. Players can then perform tricks such as loop-de-loops, or progress safely across more terrain before eventually landing back on the ground.

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The graphics for the game are beautifully animated and give the game depth as everything, including the background, moves with the progress of that current run. It’s hard to not feel immersed in the game as the mountains in the background move, or you watch an orange glow in the distance just before the sun rises and brightens the entire level. This brings another interesting element to the game, with nighttime and a very weak moonlight bringing an extra challenge and keeping runs from feeling repetitive or static. There are also certain weather conditions, such as rain or snowstorms, that impede visibility slightly, but beyond that also gives the impression that it’s a full, constantly moving world.

Alto’s Adventure follows Alto, and eventually his friends, as they chase after a pack of llamas that have escaped from his home. This is the extent of the story, which is certainly disappointing but does not limit the potential of the game. Gameplay is smooth and easy to get into, with very little waiting time between each run along the snow-covered slopes. The music for the game is similarly simple, using a repeated piano track that fits well with the feeling of boarding down the side of a mountain. That, coupled with the superb sound effects, allows players to immerse themselves in the game, especially with a good set of headphones.

c06_RoofStormThe game is not particularly short or long, depending on how much a player enjoys going after those extra objectives. A decent run through the game can go far beyond a few minutes of play, though this isn’t really encouraged for those players seeking to complete the objectives and move on to the next set. In order to start working on clearing the next three objectives, players have to end the run and start over. This can feel a bit annoying, especially if players happen to have fallen into a good groove within the game; but on the other hand, this adds a lot of replay value to the game itself, since the challenges continue to push players to perform multiple combos and get enough speed for those bigger challenges. Even without that, however, the endless snowboarding grows on players as the level is never the same as before, and players usually only have a few seconds to see and jump over a rock, or hop onto a rooftop to start grinding along it.

Alto’s Adventure is a lot of fun, giving casual players a reasonable challenge and intuitive controls. The more difficult parts of the game are pretty much optional, unless the players want to unlock the other characters (which in my opinion, are completely worth the extra effort). Each run does not feel the same as before, with variations in surfaces to perform combos on, which can then lead to faster speeds that can break through some surfaces, or can slow them down because of a poorly timed jump. There’s also an enemy (just one though) that adds an extra challenge as he chases after the snowboarder on a llama. The only way to escape him is to perform tricks for a boost in speed, before jumping over a chasm, leaving the enemy on the other side.

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Alto’s Adventure is currently available on the iTunes App Store for iOS devices for $1.99 USD, which is a very reasonable price for the amount of gameplay it offers. The lack of a story is disappointing, but not a deal breaker as the game does not flounder without some kind of background exposition. The roaming landscape, beautiful scenery, varied gameplay, and extra challenges do more than enough to keep players enthralled for a long time. Gamers can learn more about Snowman and future game projects by visiting their Facebook page, or following them on Twitter.



I'm a big JRPG fan in general, but games with a good story and great characters are what drive me. It touches the writer in me.