Version Reviewed: 1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Although Paul Bragiel ultimately failed in his attempt to qualify for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, players can now relive his inspiring attempt to get in shape with Team Paul Skiing. The game’s real-life backstory and promise to fund young athlete charities with its earnings are certainly noble, but is the game itself any good?
Team Paul Skiing is almost like an endless runner but with a few key differences. For one, it’s not actually endless. Players go on a finite journey through Paul’s various cross-country training grounds like Finland, Colombia, and finally Russia. The difficulty may make the bronze, silver, and gold medals seem constantly out of reach, but diligent players can obtain them and finish the game.
Players also never control Paul directly. Instead, they move obstacles out of his way as he fervently skis away from the hungry bears pursuing him. Each obstacle requires a specific gesture to be cleared like tapping on an ice cube, swiping a barrel to the left, or pushing a TV camera up. The challenge comes from quickly identifying an obstacle and performing its respective command, sort of like a rhythm game. Power-ups like coin magnets also help clear the field of distracting but useful clutter.
Once the obstacles start coming fast and furious, conducting the symphony of strokes needed to clear them becomes almost thrilling. Unfortunately, the more frantic endgame also occasionally suffers from frame rate problems, which can be fatal in a game like this. When the graphics do run smoothly though, the painted visuals and paper cutout animations are a joy to behold. Meanwhile, the triumphant orchestral music makes the game’s frequent use of inspirational quotes more charming than cheesy. “Clear your mind of can’t!” “Aspire to inspire before you expire!”
Like Paul’s own actual journey, Team Paul Skiing is an admirable effort that falls a little short of full gold medal glory. Call this one a solid silver.