Back in the terrible bygone age of computing, when offal from butcher’s shops was casually tossed in the street to fester and chamber pots were merrily emptied from second floor windows, there was SkiFree. I believe it was released as part of those free packs of groin-grabbingly awful titles you get pre-installed on new PCs. (I certainly hope so, because even Satan himself would feel deep, squirm-inducing shame on attempting to sell this horsecrap for actual money.) This ancient sports sim, (if it warrants such a label) sucked balls heartily then, and certainly continues to do so now. Maintain the upmost vigilance for low flying high-velocity shits from those chamber pots, and let’s take a look.
You play as the little guy you see here, a ski-enthusiast with exasperatingly dire taste in bobble hats. (Look at the damn thing, what was he thinking? Not to mention the embarrassing ensemble as a whole. No wonder the far cooler-looking ski dudes you pass on the way down give you a well-deserved beating if you stray too close. Looking like an ass always results in a swift fist to the groin. I should know. I was the groin-ee, not the groin-er, but I digress.) You go barrelling down a thoroughly nondescript mountain, in pursuit of the ever-wily and elusive style points. What the hell these supposedly do, I can’t fathom. But they have their own box in the corner of the screen there, so they’re quite plainly desperately important. On your perilous journey, you’ll be beset by a murderous myriad of obstacles. These range from appallingly drawn vegetation (to wit, a Christmas tree summoned forth from the mind of a less-than-precocious four year old with a crayon) to humongous rocks and something that appears to be the turd of some alien species. All of these bastard things seem determined to send you flat on your ass, with a shadenfreude-enhanced chuckle as your score goes down the shitter. So focused are they on achieving this goal, I saw one of the goddamn trees sprout stumpy tree-legs and wander into my path. Literally, it brought to mind those Birnam Wood shenanigans from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I’m not ashamed to admit I crapped myself, just a little, at this sight. Sentient, angry plant life? Holy balls, no thanks. That kind of caper is simply uncalled for.
But then you reach the bottom, and you’re really screwed.
Somewhere in this frozen Sodom lurks that skinny-ass Yeti. You’ll be merrily making your way down, blissfully unaware that the agent of your hairy doom is about to make an appearance. Then he’ll dash on screen and eat your balls right off before you can even demand to know wtf is that? Every run in SkiFree ends this way, a little incongruous sadism in an otherwise pleasant (if still nut-numbingly terrible) experience. (Pleasant providing you aren’t eviscerated by an Ent-wannabe beforehand, of course.) Those that have had the misfortune to experience the game before know the plight I speak of.
I tried many tactics to avoid the attentions of this ravenous beast, all of which failed hilariously. A hasty change of direction, shouting indiscriminate profanity, and exhorting our guy to move faster, you hat-wearing fool! Faster! all ended in my humiliating demise. Having recently returned to this hellish game, I can confirm that you won’t find a more evil mother in the entire video game universe. Oftentimes, he’ll forego the whole hiding/running at you rigmarole and simply wait at the bottom of the mountain for you. (Smoking/having a dump/evading tourists with cameras or whatever Yetis fill their days with until you make an appearance.) He casually strides over and chews on you, a remarkably poignant metaphor for the futility of human existence. Or, a shitty, shitty old game. Whichever analysis you prefer.
Graphically, this title is thoroughly ass, as my screenshots make clear. (And they were the more interesting sights you can expect to find here.) This is to be expected, from decades-old balls like this. But the terrible Triumvirate is completed by its pure tediousness and irritation-value. The nostalgia factor made me begin playing, my gag reflex made me hastily stop. Just for my fellow retro-head masochists, though, take a look at the official site here.
They sell t-shirts, I’m reliably informed. If they don’t read SkiFree: Yes, it IS as crap as you remember! Then, in smaller font: About as endearing as a skidmark since 1991, I shall be most disappointed.
Article by Chris Littlechild
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