Ski Or Die

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #64

Ski Or Die

After becoming the world's best skateboarder in Skate Or Die, you've decided to take up a sport with a bit more challenge to such an amazing sportsman as yourself. So it's off to Rodney's Winter Wonderland to prove yourself the ultimate on skis...

The game begins with that entrepreneurial genius Rodney: once again he's got the hippest shop around and it's here you choose which event to compete in. There are five events in all, which can be entered individually or, once you think you're ready, as one massive competition with five points for first place down to one point for third. Up to eight players can participate, taking turns, although one event allows simultaneous two-player action.

One of the most fun events is Snow Blast, an Operation Wolf-type game with snowballs instead of bullets. It's first-person perspective and you've got a cursor to aim your snowballs with. There are two fronts to defend on, north and south: different screens, neither of which scroll. You flick between the screens by pressing Space according to where the most targets are. The enemy are the loathesome 'Snotheads', who run left and right while throwing snowballs at you. Hits cover you with snow, which can be scraped away if you collect a spade by shooting that icon. Other icons include penguins (extra points), snowballs (extra snowballs) and stars (unlimited snowballs for a short time).

Ski Or Die

After this you might go for an Innertube Thrash, a sort of Arctic version of Toobin'. One or two players can slide downhill in innertubes. Left-right rotates your tube, Fire allows you to jab at your opponent with a fork or knife - if you've picked them up. This causes the punctured tube to slow down, but can you reflate by running over an air pump.

There's more downward, vertically-scrolling action in the Downhill Blitz. An individual skier has to make his way down a mountainside. There are various paths, most interrupted by deep ravines which have to be jumped. You can also do tricks, but speed is most important here.

But tricks are all there is in Acro Aerial: you zoom down a ramp, waggling a joystick for speed then lift off for stunts. The screen flips right, then scrolls upwards as you do your stuff. You can also do tricks in the Snowboard Half-Pipe where you 'ski' into the screen. The lengthy curved half-pipe has logs to avoid, plus stars to collect for extra points. You can also get points by executing tricks such as leaping over bumps and doing aerials - zooming up off the side of the Half-Pipe.


Ski Or Die

This is more than a bit disappointing for an Epyx game. Most of the events are very simplistic and dull with only mediocre presentation and little sense of fun. And unfortunately there's only one simultaneous two-player event (Innertube Thrash) - more of the same would have increased the sense of competition between the players.

As it is, the game still provides good variety if little quality. But all that snow's a bit depressing in the middle of summer - what a strange time to release such a wintry game!


What surprised me more than the fact that this is a rather limited package of snow events was the fact that Rob Hubbard has come up with some unimagiative music, and this after hearing the marvellous PC tunes (the Downhill Blitz is an 'off-the-wall' but particularly grating piece).

Ski Or Die

I'm a little worried about the minimal presence of simultaneous play in the game - one out of five events offering the two-player option is not a good sign and should have offered good scope for some wild and very funny events (the Snowball Blast shows promise and the Acro Aerials could have been fun if it had a little more depth).

Instead, the limited events just come out dull. Epyx, what went wrong?


Presentation 65%
Amusing instructions, multi-player games but only one simultaneous two-player event.

Ski Or Die

Graphics 64%
Good variation, but the Downhill Blitz is very poor and the Innertube Thrash is dull. The other events are only okay, but you expect more of Epyx.

Sound 72%
Unremarkable Rob Hubbard tunes.

Hookability 70%
Ability to enter any event means there's plenty to get you going...

Lastability 57%
...but none of the events are really first-class and some are very poor.

Overall 61%
A disappointing game from the masters of sports sims.