Despite the sun’s stubborn insistence on playing hide-and-seek with the Northern Hemisphere, people still manage to brave the winter temperatures and stay active. As you read this, athletes from around the world are gathering to compete at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as well as at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.
At the same time, it is really cold out there. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take part in seasonal pastimes from the heated comfort of your living room. Below we present some of the best mobile winter sports games available for your Android phone or tablet.
Now you can enjoy the winter without all that winter getting in the way!
Ski Challenge 14
This gyroscope-enabled downhill skiing game claims to offer “realistic ski physics.” Even if you’re like me and have never actually skied before but have dabbled with tilt-controlled racing games, you will be familiar with the basic gameplay of Ski Challenge 14.
This first-person self-racer is free to download but has a bevy of add-ons and power-ups that players can purchase along the way. Additionally, an online mode allows you to measure your times against those of players around the world.
Ski Challenge 14 is not easy at first, but it gets more manageable after a few runs. If you can work through the frustration, everything starts to feel right. Be sure to take some time to look away from the track in front of you, though, as the designers have created some beautiful visuals and vistas to enjoy as you tilt and swivel your way down the mountainside.
You know curling: It’s that Winter Olympic sport that uses brooms. The sport may seem silly to the uninitiated, but it’s harder than it looks.
The objective in curling is to slide a “stone” closer to a target than the opposing team does. It’s like bocce, except on ice and with a big, heavy rock. The Curling3D mobile game allows you to orient, aim, and launch the stone with a swipe of a finger. (Note: It is very easy to overlaunch until you get the hang of it.)
And don’t think we forgot the brooms. Once the stone is on its way, the game lets you sweep in front of it via finger swipes in order to prolong the stone’s velocity and to affect its path.
Although the physicality of any sport is difficult to re-create in a mobile game, Curling3D does a decent job of nailing down the gameplay. It’s actually a fun sports game that is as much about strategy as it is about hand-eye coordination. God help me, I enjoy curling.
Super Ski Jump
Ski jumping is about as close as a nonsuicidal human can get to flying without the aid of an airborne vehicle.
While I’m sure that a lot goes into the real sport of ski jumping, the gameplay of Super Ski Jump is quite simple: Watch the balance controls as you go down the ramp, and if you begin to veer off toward one side, compensate by tapping the opposite side of the screen. Then you ace your jump and landing by tapping the screen just as two control bars are about to meet.
The button controls are the default, but I recommend switching to the more intuitive tilt controls in the settings. Additionally, I suggest turning the sound effects off, as every landing is met with the raucous sounds of what is either a chorus of vuvuzelas or a pack of elderly walruses being slaughtered.
The game is limited in scope, so I could see it eventually becoming tiresome—though I have yet to hit that particular wall. Good thing it’s free. However, if you find that you indeed have a love for the high-flying sport, check out the for-pay Pro version, which removes the ads and gives you access to tournament, cup, and multiplayer modes.
Ice Rage is a game that’s perfectly adapted for a mobile environment. Not that it comes anywhere close to capturing the true hockey experience, but its simple gameplay molds nicely to a touchscreen interface.
This minimalist take on hockey gives players two control mechanisms: a direction control and a shoot button. If a two-button scheme is too much for you, the game even has a one-button mode that allows you to concentrate on just shooting. Another setting lets you take control of the goalie as well, but don’t do that—it gets tricky fast.
Quick tip: It took me a while to figure this out, but if you hold down the shoot button, you will see where your player is aiming before you actually send the puck flying.
You can play against your phone or play against a friend on the same screen (an arrangement that probably would work better on a tablet than on a phone). In either case, the game’s oddly intuitive gameplay is fun to learn. Although Ice Rage provides zero insight into the real sport of ice hockey, it takes on a strategy and physics all its own.
Price: Free, $2 (full ad-free version, purchased in-game)
I don’t know whether iStunt 2 matches up to its description as “the most extreme snowboarding game on the Google Play Store,” but this winter-themed forever-runner has a fun minimalist approach of its own.
The game tasks your radical-dude snowboarder with maneuvering through a series of increasingly outlandish courses. Your only controls consist of tilting from side to side and grabbing your board to perform midair acrobatics and land in the proper orientation. The game is free to download, but you can buy the full ad-free version for $2. Additionally, you can choose from a number of in-app (or earnable) purchases, such as replacing your character with a polar bear.
As far as gameplay goes, iStunt 2 is a basic forever-runner that has just enough to keep you interested for those little moments when you want to escape, and it isn’t so difficult that it becomes frustrating. This gaming snack food will delightfully tide you over.
Playman Winter Games
This collection of five winter games is less about physical prowess than mental agility: You compete in most of the games by reacting correctly to quickly presented stimuli.
For example, in the ski sprint competition, you tap a circle when it shows up on the screen. The circles appear in random patterns, so keeping pace becomes difficult. The slower you are to respond or the more mistakes you make, the faster your competition will zoom ahead. Playman Winter Games is the thinking man’s winter-game suite.
Although hockey fights are proactively discouraged in most European leagues as well as in Olympic play, fighting is one of the prized, thuggish traditions of the NHL. And the aptly named Hockey Fight cuts right to the fisticuffs-on-ice.
At its heart, Hockey Fight is more of a boxing game than a hockey game. In fact, this may be the first game with hockey in the title that never features a puck at any point.
The player can touch one of four areas on the screen to launch left and right punches to either the head or body, while blocking to retain energy. Anyone familiar with fighting games that employ energy bars will be accustomed to the underlying strategy of when to punch and when to dodge. Hockey Fight is a goofy ode to one of the strangest officially sanctioned aspects of professional sports.
As a side note, be sure to turn off the fight commentary in the settings, as the robo-commentator’s limited pool of chatter gets grating fast.
This easy-to-play 3D snowboarding game will make the clumsiest of people feel like Shaun White—if only ever so briefly.
The simple, tilt-based gameplay allows you to perform any number of “crazy” acrobatics by using a combination of buttons when you are airborne. If you grow weary of the snowy mountain vistas, the freeboard action gives you the option to “shred” a Christmas village or a Halloween-themed graveyard.
Crazy Snowboard lets anyone complete awesome aerial tricks on the very first run. The game’s appeal isn’t about accomplishing goals and getting better—it’s about feeding the fantasy of pulling off amazing stunts without really trying.
This story, "Snow is for suckers: Play these winter sports games on Android" was originally published by TechHive.