If you had a Windows PC in the early 90’s, you might remember this little gem. I hope you felt that; the nostalgia in the air. This odd game was nothing ground breaking, but it sure could kill some time; in the pre-internet world most of us grew up in.
SkiFree was created by Chris Pirih, a programmer for Microsoft. He created SkiFree in C on his home computer for his own entertainment, but was caught playing at work by a program manager at Microsoft. Instead of getting in trouble for playing games rather than working, this manager found the game interesting, and with Pirih’s consent, Microsoft decided to include the game in the next Entertainment Pack release in 1991.
Everyone who had a computer with no internet knows the few games that came along with your PC – Minesweeper, Hearts, Solitaire, Pinball – but this game has mostly been forgotten to time.
The game was very simple. A player could use the directional keys on the keyboard or a mouse to make the skier go left or right to avoid obstacles such as trees, novice skiers, dogs, and fast moving snowboarders, as well as perform tricks by launching off rainbow-colored ramps, or mounds of snow.
At the beginning of the game, you were given a few choices of types of run. There was a Free-style course where the goal was collecting “style points” by doing flips, a Slalom course where you tried to beat an opened slalom course in the shortest time possible, and a Tree Slalom course which was similar to the Slalom course, but longer, with narrower-spaced flags, and more tree obstacles. But, you could also enter none of those options and just SkiFree. When performing tricks over certain obstacles, the obstacle would change. Dogs would poop, and trees would catch fire if you landed a trick just right. If you collided with any of the obstacles time was lost, and your score would decrease.
The game was super-simple, and found its way from Windows to the original Macintosh, and was even one of seven games included in The Best of Entertainment Pack released for Game Boy Color in 2001. Personally, I never knew about this Game Boy Color cartridge, but I wish I would have had it, just to play this game on the go, to kill time.
The most memorable component of the game was the Abominable Snow Monster that popped up and ate you after your run. Once you completed a run, the game did not end, and you could continue to ski down the mountain, however, eventually a monster would run out on the screen and eat you alive.
It’s been stated on Wikipedia that the monster appears after the 2,000 m (6,600 ft) mark. If you out run the monster and continue further down the hill (20–30 m (66–98 ft)), another monster will give chase, but uphill.
At the start of the game, you could press the F button on your keyboard to play in “fast” mode, but even so, I could never out run this hungry abominable snow monster to save my life. Apparently, an angled route while playing in “fast” mode avoids both of the monsters that eventually appear, but I call bullshit.
If you had serious skills, you could go even further down the slope while these monsters chased you, eventually having three of them trying to feast on your flesh. There was no true end to the hill, rather the world would loop around on itself, and you would find yourself back at the beginning. If you accomplished this, the monsters went away.
If you’re like me, you probably want to play this classic game right now. Well, there are still a few versions of it out there to download. Be warned, some of the mobile versions are adaptations, and are not the original classic game. But, if your planning on playing on a PC, then you can find the original by following the links provided.