Those born in the 80’s and 90’s will remember the plethora of poorly made flash games that famously distracted web users in the early 2000s. With simple one-button press mechanics, games featuring Monster Trucks, Snowboarding, and BMX’s were wildly popular, especially amongst students during IT classes or study time. In short, Alto’s Adventure can be described as an exquisitely refined take on what those born in the ‘80s and ‘90s will remember flash games to be. With a helping of unique charm in its animated 2D visual style, and of course the accessibility of the mobile market, Alto’s Adventure is a pick-up-and-put-down experience well worth having within arms reach.
Those who claim to understand the mobile games market will always tell you that there is no predictability in terms of a game’s success ahead of its publication, yet I tend to disagree. Games that are cleverly designed, visually and audibly polished, positive in player interaction, sound of mechanics, and marketed even moderately will likely garner some sort of success, either critically or financially. Alto’s Adventure belongs to this category of games. It knows what it is and doesn’t seek to be anything more or less than intended.
From a gameplay perspective, Alto’s Adventure is a side-on, endless Snowboarding adventure game that can be likened to Ski Safari for those who are familiar. The player has one input – touching the screen. Touching the screen once results in Alto jumping, while holding it will cause Alto to back flip. This simple interaction system is a great design choice, one that adds to the charm of the experience. The lure of the title is in the carefully designed achievement and level system, which will keep you coming back “just one more time” every time you go to put the device down. The player controls one of a selection of characters with unique attributes, allowing the player to better achieve specific goals (such as doing a triple backflip twice in one run) and progress their way through a series of challenges that allow further playable characters to be unlocked. Rather than opting to monetise the upgrade system, the game leaves players feeling satisfied that they are able to achieve the goals presented to them through nothing but their own persistence. Each of the goals are quite approachable and only require a knowledge of when best to attempt them, making Alto’s Adventure a relaxing experience, rather than a frustrating grind – this is the beauty of it’s design. Alto’s Adventure knows exactly what it is trying to be and that is exactly why all of the elements that make up the game, such as its solid and simple mechanic, beautiful aesthetic, simple user interface, and even musical accompaniment, all support one another to create a wholesome portable game experience.
It appears of late that more and more premium titles are popping up on the Android and iOS app stores, a play that almost seems to be occurring in direct opposition of the “freemium” and “pay to win” culture that has dominated the market over the last few years. From a consumer standpoint, the $2.49 AUD price point of Alto’s Adventure may initially deter those conditioned to the mindset of not paying for a mobile game upfront; however, given the clearly polished aesthetic and advertising material, it couldn’t be more reasonable for such an experience. Intelligent consumers are coming to understand that most developers that respect themselves and their creations will present them in such a way that will be reflective of the game experience itself. Alto’s Adventure is clearly one of those games.