Buy one, get one free. That’s the first thought I had about Horace Goes Snowboarding. Is it Frogger, or is it SSX Tricky? It’s neither, but there are two games in one, and they both resemble the aforementioned.
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There’s no story or frilly knickers with Horace Goes Snowboarding. You have one – no, two jobs: get a snowboard, then use it. Getting the board is the first hurdle as you have to dart across a busy road of speeding cars, purchase said board, then get to the choppa. If only Infinite State Games (Rogue Aces) could licence Arnie’s voice.
That first step seems simple, ignoring the obvious perils of getting run over. However, I did manage to get one of the fastest achievements in my Steam sophomore outing as getting to the helicopter was easy, but to snowboard, you need to buy a board first. Backtrack across the roads to purchase one then.
For a mere $20, you get your board, albeit it’s always a yellow one. Jump on the helicopter skids, and it’s off to the nearest mountains. This is the second part of the game: the somewhat prominent snowboarding part and the key existence of Horace Goes Snowboarding, the sequel to Horace Buys A Snowboard. It’s in the game title.
Your goal? Get to the bottom without crashing, and if you can weave in and out of the flags without missing any, you’ll build a chain, thus greater score and more money for yellow snowboards.
The title sequence for Horace Goes Snowboarding was simple enough: it was a title and a backdrop, then a little Discord icon. The selection is either D or Start. Not having the controller to hand, I press D, head into Discord and immediately exit it. Shit, the FBI and CIA are on to me. Pressing the return key is literally the key in this first puzzle.
There aren’t any menus, no tutorials, key bindings or JOI. It’s an Early Access title, so don’t be picky. That said, it’s a nice looking title and handles pretty well. One could only assume that the controls are the arrow keys. I tried a couple of other buttons and found out what the Windows key does.
As a fan of games like Crossy Road, I would have been happy to have repeated the intro element (which includes up and down movements), but the feature here is snowboarding, and despite the simple presentation, controlling Horace with the keys was excellent.
Besides an indoor slope, you’re pretty restricted to where you can go with a snowboarding game, so the way to mix it up is was increasing challenges and complex paths. Should Horace crash, you forfeit $100 in medical expenses and respawn back in the city to buy a board, but the goal is to reach the end. Upon completion, you begin a new day, which spells out a new course.
So far, there hasn’t been any variation other than layout. There aren’t any jumps, avalanches or invading aliens. Though that may spell out my poor skills as a snowboarder, the simplicity of Horace Goes Snowboarding is the highlight. Don’t ever read simplicity as a negative – it works in Horace’s favour.
Despite the minimalism and that you can’t customise Horace’s wardrobe, or at the very least – get a new colour snowboard, it’s a fun game, and without paying attention to hooman time, I repeatedly played. One of the incentives, other than the actual gameplay, was the online leaderboards.
I like my anonymity, as many do, and while not keen on online gaming, I do get a little competitive if there’s any scope for me to improve on my scores. The first couple of thousand points showed up, and I was second – wahey! The Wizard all over again. However, the scoring is relative. On my next play, I quadrupled that score and was third, sharing the table with different usernames.
Not knowing how I ranked was encouraging as I would keep playing to see other’s scores, but more importantly, enjoying the game. What is this winning formula? Is it the simplicity, the controls or perhaps it’s even Horace? It all feels so… familiar. Then I remember some Horace games on the Spectrum (given that this goes back yonks, I couldn’t remember what he looked like), and a quick YouTube follow-up reveals some childhood memories.
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Oh, and while we’re on the topic of memories, the snowboarding soundtrack has a particular drum n’ bass flavour that was spot-on.
Horace Goes Snowboarding isn’t from the same stable, but it takes inspiration from the classic game, though much more user-friendly than the originals. Infinite Slate Games have done a great job with this Early Access. It’s just the kind of game I like to mix up when reviewing the odd point and click adventure and need something less taxing on the brain and more of a pick-up and play. Albeit, an addictive one.