If you like “endless runner” games like Canabalt and the Temple Run games, you’re going to like Alto’s Adventure. It’s a side-scroller with a simple one-finger mechanic, things to collect, and various landscape-related perils. Play until you “die” then tap the screen to play again. You can accomplish various tasks to advance in levels, which unlocks more characters. It costs $2.99 (iOS, but not Android at this point) and doesn’t ask you for more money. You can play a pretty solid game in five minutes, so it’s an ideal game for waiting rooms, parking lots, traffic lights — no, wait. Scratch that last one unless you’re a passenger.
There. There’s your review.
Except that not quite all of it. The one-finger mechanic is simple but has a neat little trick to it. Tap the screen and your little snowboarder jumps over chasms and boulders but if you hold your finger down your snowboarder will spin in a little flip. Flips help push your score higher and are tied to some of the “level up” tasks. If you’re mid-flip, you can take your finger off the screen and your snowboarder (Alto at the start, but you get to unlock others) will rotate back to a safe landing position. Land on your head and your game is over. Plow into a rock and your game’s over, unless you’re picked up enough speed (watch your scarf!) to break through. Hit a ramp at high speed and you can flip a few times, then maybe you’ll land on a rail or a string of banner flags in which case you can grind like a skateboarder, which racks up even more points.
See? Simple idea but potentially complex gameplay.
Alto’s Adventure is also a crazy-pretty game. See that gif right up there? Dig the birds (which, by the way, figure into a level goal in at least one case). The scenery changes around you, from light to dark, from sunny to rainy, from clear to hazy — and all of those changes can affect how well you see your snowboarder and how easily you can navigate the obstacles. Sun glare can obscure a boulder just long enough that you can’t see it until the very last moment. That may seem unfair, but it kept me alert and interested and, most importantly, keen to play another game. I recommend you play at least once with your headphones in. The sound is sumptuous.
Now, let’s talk about those things we’re collecting. Of course there are coins, because these games always have coins. Along with coins there are the various coin-related things you can snowboard over and pick up like bigger coins and a coin magnet. But there are also llamas.
Wait…also? No. I understate that. There are mostly llamas. Llamas are the point of the game. Alto is collecting llamas because he llives in llama lland. His sweater is probably made from llama wool. His grumpy elder, who you will certainly meet once you’ve played a few games, probably made Alto tend the llamas because snowboarding is just a frippery and you’ll never get anywhere with that silly hobby so get so llama-brushing!
You collect llamas because that’s how you get more points. Sure, the coins help, but the llamas are where it’s at. And they look absolutely adorable sliding down a slope right before you board over them and collect them.
So collect llamas and do flips. Enjoy the sights and sounds but don’t get so lost in the lovely world Snowman has created that you forget to leap the boulder. But if you do, just go back for another run.
Mobile Monday is a semi-regular feature here at Jim-O-Rama wherein one of the Jims writes about a mobile app that has caught his attention. So long as folks keep making interesting and useful mobile apps, and we can afford to purchase them, we’ll have a Mobile Monday post! We don’t make any money on these (not yet, at least, but we’re definitely open to the prospect).