We thought we’d like Ski Champ for two reasons. First, it was inspired by SkiFree, a simple, fun diversion that came preinstalled on Windows computers in the early nineties. Second, its title calls to mind other iDevice games like Ramp Champ and Hook Champ, both of which we thoroughly enjoyed. We were mistaken.
Rather than using its source material as a springboard of inspiration, Ski Champ exploits it entirely. It mimics the look of SkiFree but little of the feel. So not only is this game a lawsuit waiting to happen, but it’s also broken.
At the start of the game you’re at the top of the hill, and you have two options. You can play freestyle mode, in which your score is determined by the number of tricks you can pull off before reaching the finish line, or you can slalom, which means you have to go to the left or right of flags in the ground as quickly as possible as you descend the mountain.
To control the direction of your skier, you swipe left, right, or down. Holding your finger at the bottom of the screen and sliding it works best, but it’s still not as responsive as the arrow pads on the keyboard were in the original. Annoying music that loops quickly also hampers the experience.
But here’s the kicker. When you jump off a ramp, you can perform flip tricks by tapping the top half of the screen. However, if you keep tapping your character keeps flipping and actually rises off the top of screen. The camera still goes downhill, and you keep racking up points until you decide to land. Basically, you can get unlimited points this way. This is good if you’re trying to beef up your OpenFeint achievement score, but not for anything else.
Unless they update the game with a D-pad and fix the broken scoring system, we suggest you buy a lift ticket for a different slope.