Developer: Static Oceans
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Spelunky might wind up being one of the most influential games of its generation, at least among game designers. Its challenging gameplay with random level generation has served as the spark that has launched a bunch of other roguelike-inspired titles. But Dudeski is hardly a roguelike or procedural death labyrinth in any way but the most loose of definitions. This is a 2D slalom-skiing game, but it clearly takes structural inspiration from that title, and it makes it a unique experience among a bevy of me-too auto-runners.

Dudeski-1Dudeski-3Now, skiing makes a lot of sense for an auto-runner game just based on the constant motion that skiing generates. Also, avalanches serve as a great motivation to keep skiing. Dudeski incorporates both of these things, but there’s a reason why I said it was an auto-runner and not an endless runner: the game isn’t actually endless. Dudeski is beatable – it has an ending. There are four levels that get progressively harder, which are comprised of randomly-arranged sections. Make it through all four, and the player wins. There’s no permanent character upgrades, so it’s possible to win on the first try. The permanent elements include unlockable secrets, and checkpoints to start at each of the later levels.

The pinecones that players collect are used to unlock the checkpoints, to buy items to protect the eponymous Dudeski, and to buy a speed-up item for those who want to compete based on time. Now, this makes unlocking later sections of the game a bit of a challenge as to buy checkpoints one has to ski without protective items. I kind of want a system that perhaps unlocks checkpoints without this tradeoff, but I also could see where it would be intentional: it forces players to master the earlier sections in order for them to eventually be good.

And what Dudeski excels at is in its design. When doing well, everything tends to feel right, and if something is being done wrong, the game does one of two things: it either provides concrete indicators like the slowdown when missing a slalom gate, or puts the player in harm’s way, essentially. There’s also a reward for taking the left paths in each level: these are harder and grant more pinecones for completing them, which leads to quicker checkpoints and better items.

Dudeski-8Dudeski-6There are two phases of the game, as well. There’s trying to beat the game, and then trying to beat the game skillfully in “Ironman” mode by starting from the beginning and winning in one fell swoop, with leaderboards for time and pinecones. Certainly, there’s satisfaction that comes from beating the game, but hardcore players will also find something to enjoy with replay value if they keep at it.

I think Dudeski is better than it would have been if it was a true endless runner. By giving the game a sense of purpose, it shines much brighter.


Posted in: Games, iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

Tagged with: , , , ,