|Platform(s)||iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Linux|
Alto's Adventure is a 2015 endless runner snowboarding video game by Snowman. The player-character automatically moves to the right of the screen through procedurally generated landscapes. The player taps the screen to jump and perform tricks (backflips), and works towards goals, competitive high scores, and upgrades. Snowman, a Toronto-based, three-person indie development team, previously worked on productivity apps before Alto's Adventure. The game was made to emulate the ethereal atmosphere of snowboarding, and was inspired by Journey (2012), Monument Valley (2014), Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (2000), and Windosill (2009).
The game was released on February 19, 2015, initially for iOS devices. In September that year, Snowman announced that Alto's Adventure would launch on Android and Kindle Fire. The game was released for Android on February 11, 2016. On July 8, 2016, the game was released for the Windows platform.
According to review score aggregator Metacritic, the game received universal acclaim from critics. Reviewers praised its art style and sense of atmosphere but criticized its gameplay as unoriginal. Pocket Gamer awarded the game their Gold Award.
Alto's Adventure is a side-scrolling endless runner snowboarding game. The player character moves automatically through procedurally generated landscapes towards the right side of the screen and the player can only control when to jump. The player taps the screen once to jump and holds the screen while the player character is midair to perform tricks. While the character moves across the landscape, the player can complete some of the game's 180 goals, though they are given only three at a time. Goals include such things as traveling a set distance, rescuing runaway llamas, crossing dangerous gaps, grinding across rooftops of villages, and outsmarting the mountain elders. The player receives awards from completing goals, and can also collect coins that can be used to purchase upgrades. Players perform tricks in quick succession, or combos, to earn points towards a competitive high score. The game also tracks distance traveled and trick combos. Later in the game, players can use a wingsuit, which changes some elements of the game. The environments of Alto's Adventure change in lighting as time passes through the cycle of the day, and incorporate various weather effects. Player progress syncs between iPads and iPhones over iCloud, and the game uses Game Center leaderboards.
Alto's Adventure was built in collaboration between Snowman, an indie development studio based in Toronto, and lead artist and programmer Harry Nesbitt, based in Devon, England. The developers intended the game to "capture the flow and feeling of snowboarding" and the way "everything else sort of just disappears" when "in rhythm with the mountain", unlike other snowboarding games. Snowman also sought to address how other mobile games emphasize video game console-type elements with on-screen controls, which co-founder Ryan Cash felt were largely not designed with the mobile platform in mind.
Alto's Adventure was inspired by Journey (2012), Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (2000), and Windosill (2009). Snowman's co-founders, Ryan Cash and Jordan Rosenberg, wanted to bring the essence of the Tony Hawk games of their youth into Alto's Adventure, including "fun, positive goals" and an "easy to learn, hard to master" trick system. They avoided goals from other endless runners that they considered negative, uninteresting, or repetitive. As inspired by Monument Valley (2014), the developers chose to charge above average for the game as a trade-off for not including offsets like in-game advertisements or in-app purchases. Snowman has said any new content would be as an expansion along the lines of Monument Valley's "Forgotten Shores". The game was released for iOS on February 19, 2015.
A port for Android and Kindle Fire was announced in September later that year. The app was released for those platforms on February 11, 2016. Snowman collaborated with Noodlecake Studios to make the Android port. Additionally, unlike the iOS version, which is launched as a "premium app" (which requires the user to pay $2.99 to download), the Android version is free to download. In an interview with The Verge, Ryan Cash of Snowman explained that their decision to make the Android Alto's Adventure free is due to iOS and Android being on a "completely different ecosystem", and mainly because of the bigger piracy issues on Android apps. Additionally, he said that those using the Android port will have the same experience as those playing Alto's in the iOS.
The game received "universal acclaim", according to video game review score aggregator Metacritic. Reviewers had high praise for its art style and aesthetics but criticized its gameplay as unoriginal. Pocket Gamer awarded the game their Gold Award.
The Verge's Andrew Webster wrote that the game was a "supremely laid back" and "incredibly relaxing experience". He wrote that this "next great iPad game" was already one of his mobile favorites, and is set apart from others by its "style" and "achingly beautiful" mountain landscape. Webster found Alto's Adventure to be part art game and part "fun little time waster", and compared it to a combination of Sword & Sworcery and Tiny Wings. TouchArcade's Jared Nelson likened its art style to Journey and its gameplay to Ski Safari. While he did not find the game challenging, he enjoyed the "incredible" visuals: "tons of tiny details", like the character animations and changes in lighting and weather, contributed. Nelson also characterized TouchArcade readers' impressions as "highly positive".
Eric Ford, also of TouchArcade, found the gameplay "basic" as well—"not much here that truly innovates within the genre"—but felt that the game was worth experiencing for its "excellent visual style and soundtrack". He, too, compared the gameplay to Ski Safari and wrote that while the game's power-ups, quest objectives, currency, and score were "pretty standard", the trick system was praiseworthy and gave even easy tricks a sense of "accomplishment". Ford was not enticed by the available upgrades and wrote that he played not for the upgrades but for the game's "whole look and feel" that was made to feel like more than a game with its "awesome", "mellow", and "soothing" soundtrack. Ford added that the game earned "its hype" from its "amazing art style and visual effects" rather than from its gameplay. He was impressed with how much the dynamic weather changed the feel of the game even while the gameplay went unchanged. Ford predicted that players would respond to Alto's Adventure either in appreciation of its "sheer amount of artistic integrity and nuanced visuals," or in disappointment by its similarity to previous endless runners.
Harry Slater of Pocket Gamer thought the game was "pretty special" and "among the best on the App Store". He thought its "stunningly simple" gameplay to be a "compulsive and engaging experience" and "bloody good fun", though he found its core mechanics unoriginal. Eli Cymet of GameZebo said he wanted to live in the game's world and praised its "total, uncompromising dedication to the atmosphere" and how every choice felt "made to preserve experiential authenticity." 
Sequel (Alto's Odyssey)
|Designer(s)||Harry Nesbitt, Joe Grainger|
|Programmer(s)||Harry Nesbitt, Joe Grainger|
|Composer(s)||Todd Baker, Torin Borrowdale|
|Release||iOS: February 21, 2018 Android: July 25, 2018|
|Genre(s)||Endless Runner Snowboarding|
The developers announced a sequel, Alto's Odyssey, in December 2016. Alto's Odyssey was supposed to launch in the summer of 2017 but was delayed until early 2018. The team behind Alto's Odyssey has shared that "their goal was to make it perfect".
On February 12, 2018, Snowman and Nesbitt (dubbed "Team Alto") have announced the official release date of Alto's Odyssey with a trailer on their YouTube channel. The game was set to release on February 22, 2018, as shown in the trailer. The sequel keeps the same gameplay but has a desert theme, very opposing to that of the first game. The game adds new features, such as wall-riding mechanics, water mechanics, tornadoes, falling platforms, a new power up, and balloon bouncing; and mechanics returning from the first installment such as different times of day, different locations within the desert, called "Biomes", weather, and the wing suit. However, the game was only released for iOS, an Android release date planned for later. In addition to its original game mode, it also had a zen mode, in which players can play and fall over as many times as they want and continue. It was added into the game with the suggestion that it could help them relax.
On February 21, 2018, Alto's Odyssey was released on the App Store one day early, at a price of $4.99USD.
On June 4, 2018, Alto's Odyssey was awarded with a prestigious Apple Design Award for Outstanding Design and Innovation.
On July 25, 2018, Alto's Odyssey was released on the Android platform.
The game was nominated for "Fan Favourite Mobile Game" at the Gamers' Choice Awards; the A-Train Award for Best Mobile Game at the New York Game Awards; "Mobile Game of the Year" at the SXSW Gaming Awards; "Excellence in Visual Art" and "Excellence in Audio" at the Independent Games Festival Awards; "Best Mobile Game" at the Game Developers Choice Awards; and "Mobile Game" at the 15th British Academy Games Awards.
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Media related to Alto's Adventure at Wikimedia Commons