Skiing Yeti Mountain is a quaint and well crafted mobile experience, showing the best of what downhill skiing has to offer with impressive one-finger swipe controls, and teasing the great mystery of the fabled Yeti. Skiing Yeti Mountain aims to capitalise on the success of recent games that have treated their monetisation in a light-hearted manner, such as Crossy Road and Adventure Capitalist, but in many ways falls just short of the mark, as you will find out below.
To provide some context, Skiing Yeti Mountain is a mobile game crafted by Featherweight Games; an independent two-man studio based in Sydney, Australia. The location is ‘Yeti Mountain’, which appears to be an otherwise unassuming ski mountain, aside from the plethora bizarre locals and the ever evasive ‘Yeti’. You play as a skier attempting to make your way down the mountain, carving the snow between slalom flags, dropping off cliffs, and occasionally plowing right in to the trunk of a wonderful pixel Pine tree if you lose concentration for a split second.
Skiing Yeti Mountain has one hell of a ‘game-feel’ , helped along by brilliantly implemented controls, with which one swipe of the finger will have you carving up snow like a pro. Swipe horizontally along the bottom of the screen and your little pixel dude/dudette will carve in the corresponding direction. The controls are easily the best part of the game, with some kooky characters cropping up during your downhill adventure coming in close close behind. Visuals are not the driving attractor of this experience, but they are well done. With pixel pine forests flying by, one feels everything is as it should be, with not a twig out of place.
It’s a rather enjoyable experience, with bite-sized slopes that can be tackled in a matter of seconds, at the end of which the player can either move on to the next one, or jump out off the game and straight in to another task with no detriment to play. The main value of this game is in it’s portability and quick play loop, but this is also where some may take issue. During ski intermissions, you will often bump into one of the strange locals of the mountain, who will deliver a humorous line concerning current events on the mountain. A great deal of this dialogue takes place suddenly and without much context, which can be jarring when it interrupts the beginning of your next descent. Although the humour is quite light hearted and meta, it gets old rather fast, especially in cases where it is a means of softening the impact of watching an unavoidable video advertisement, or referencing an industry climate that players may have no internal knowledge of.
While most people can appreciate that developers simply must monetize their games if they are to make a living, and that Featherweight have made a very good attempt at contextualising their ads via an ingame dialogue; something feels a little off about the experience. Rather than it coming off as clever and genuine, it gradually became frustrating to have gameplay interrupted by dialogue and advertising that the player has no choice in watching.
The attempt at contextualising video advertisements is a great design risk that at times just doesn’t seem to have paid off, considering player satisfaction should be core to the design process. A game like Crossy Road, for example, that leaves advertisement watching entirely up to the player in exchange for a reward, mitigates the chances of a player becoming frustrated with their advertising interaction experience. There can be no ill will borne towards the game, because the player is guiding their own experience, which appears to something very important to game consumers at this point in time. To Featherweight’s credit, the frustration caused by the presence of advertising is intended to drive players to pay for the premium experience with ad’s removed, which also changes the dialogue that takes place. Perhaps this is clever design, but it also risks forcing players away who otherwise would have played the game for longer. Again, it’s a question of developer priority — is it player satisfaction in the forefront, or monetisation of a product that ultimately puts food on their table. Striking a balance is hard, but Skiing Yeti Mountain isn’t far off.
While Skiing Yeti Mountain has impressively handled controls, a great game feel, and pleasing visuals, I found that my desire to continue playing it dwindled rather fast, with character skin rewards being somewhat underwhelming and unavoidable advertisements, except for those who go premium. With a few minor adjustments to the reward system – perhaps more regular loot drops – I could see the replay value of the game jumping drastically; however, thats not to say Skiing Yeti Mountain isn’t worth your time. I encourage those looking for a challenging and fun disposable mobile game experience to try it for themselves.