After my brief hands on with the lite edition, I finally got my hands on the full version of Alpine Racer.
This full version includes a story mode and more courses to race down in time trial mode. First stop was the story mode. You have two characters to choose from to begin with a third to unlock once you have completed the stories of the first two. [story spoilers ahead!] I selected Shoga Saga first, a young snowboarder at the top of his game. He’s the best of the best and he’s entering the King of the mountain competition to prove it. His father was a champion skier, but mysteriously went missing.
You start out in the story mode with a trial run, after that you are up against Rina Saga in a second course race. She’s a young skier who’s also at the top of her game… oooh and would you believe it, her father went missing too! Beat her and it’s on to the final course, against a mystery skier. Once you beat time, in an obvious twist… he reveals he’s your father! He’s not particularly a good one either, not only did he leave you in the first place, he brags that you will never beat him again… and disappears once more. Rina’s story is exactly the same, and as you have no doubt guessed, she’s Shogas sister. In fact even when you have unlocked he father, the three slopes are identical, with the only reason to play through each story is to unlock one final character who you can only play with in time trial. Her name is Chelsea Amery and the only good thing about her is that her stats are all maxed out, which means she’s super fast.
The three slopes range in difficulty, the first trail course is an easy one of smooth turns and a more gradual slope. The second slope is based at sundown, this has tighter turns and various routes to the finish.. it’s up to you to choose the quickest to gain the advantage. The third is at night, and again features tighter turns and more obstacles, as well as different ground types like black ice to slow you down.
As you progress as either character through the story mode, you can level up your character in four areas: power, acceleration, style and speed. Leveling up allows you to do better in the harder difficulty settings in story mode, and beat your own ghost data in Time attack.
I’m disappointed with the story mode, I was hoping for a more fleshed out experience, with more courses, and a different story for each character. These races in the story are fun, but after it’s over you are thirsty for more, but apart from trying to beat your best times in time attack, there’s nothing to quench that thirst.
It’s a shame too, because the core gameplay and controls work very well. Whether tilt controls are your bag, or if you prefer touch, both perform well. The feeling of speed and control from both play styles work great.
Graphics are a little on the bland side. While the character models are ok, the courses are terribly angular and blocky. The snow is very flat, almost like you are riding on ice. I’m sure the iPhone can handle a few particle effects to give a feeling of realistic snow. The main snow texture is drawn in a way to emulate speed, so if you stop it just looks like streaky lines and not snow at all. The only positive to this is that it runs nice and fast, I guess I’d rather have bland graphics and a fast racing experience than have amazing snow effects, but a lower framerate, with me chugging down the mountain!
Overall, alpine racer is a disappointing experience, the actual gameplay is pretty good. But for $5.99 I expect more in the story mode, and at the very least a generous helping of slopes to speed down…
Presentation and Graphics
Bland and blocky textures and models in-game. The menus and character art are cool but it’s not enough to earn a higher score.
Good music and sound, more variation would be nice, but it’s what you would expect for an arcade style game such as this.
The controls work very well. And both the skiing and snowboarding are fun. It’s just a shame there isn’t more to it, with a deeper storyline and more courses. A more fleshed out trick system would have been good too.
Short story, a limited amount of slopes to choose from and with no multiplayer or world rankings it’s just you against you… and that won’t hold your attention past a few hours of play
Alpine racer is missed opportunity. There isn’t a huge amount of this genre of game on the iPhone, and Namco could have come out balls blazing with a great game. I do hope they have another crack at it with a sequel, because it does have some good points…but, I can’t overly recommend this game right now, as for the price you may feel a little short changed. If you must get some slope action right way, then I advise you try out the lite edition first.