SkiFree opening screen
SkiFree is a computer game created by Chris Pirih and released with the Microsoft Entertainment Pack in 1991. It is a simple game in which the player controls a skiier avoiding obstacles on a mountain slope. It is often remembered for its Abominable Snow Monster, which pursues the player after they finish a full run.
The player controls a skiier across a white background representing snow on a mountainside. The object of the game is to ski down an endless slope and avoid the obstacles. The game includes 3 modes: Slalom, Free Style, and Tree Slalom. In Slalom, players ski between 2 sets of flags (red and blue) while trying to get the best time. In Free Style, players ski downhill while racking up points by doing tricks. Tree Slalom is just Slalom with only trees, stumps, and dogs. There is also a "Free Ski" mode, with no objective. When the player heads past 2000 meters, the Abominable Snow Monster appears and starts to chase the player, eating them if it catches them.
Chris Pirih, a programmer for Microsoft, created SkiFree in C on his home computer for his own education and entertainment. The game eventually attracted the attention of a program manager for the Microsoft Entertainment Pack when he noticed Pirih playing it at work. With Pirih's consent, Microsoft included the game in the next Entertainment Pack release in 1991.
The game was featured in the Best of Windows Entertainment Pack and was available as a ported version for the original Macintosh. SkiFree was also one of seven games included in The Best of Entertainment Pack released for Game Boy Color in 2001.
In 1993, Pirih started work on a second version of the game, but it was abandoned for other projects as the original source code was lost. It was finally released in 2008.
Because the initial SkiFree release was a 16-bit Windows program, compatibility issues arose when running the game in newer versions of Windows. Pirih noted that users of Windows XP can configure the operating system to run 16-bit Windows programs, resolving the problem for some. Other solutions involve running Windows 3.1 in DOSBox.
At the beginning of the game, the user has four choices:
- Enter the Free-style course (with the objective of collecting "style points" by doing flips, going over moguls, etc.).
- Enter the Slalom course (with the objective of completing an opened slalom course in the shortest time possible).
- Enter the Tree Slalom course (similar to the Slalom course, but longer, with narrower-spaced flags, and with trees interspersed).
- Enter none of the courses, and just "ski free".
On all courses, obstacles such as trees and rocks appear, as do non-player characters such as other skiers and fast-moving snowboarders. Collision with any obstruction causes the player to stop and may lose valuable time or points.
The game contained an undocumented "fast mode" feature, accessed by pressing the F key.
- Player's appearance – The playable character is a skier wearing a red toque and mittens. You also wear blue sunglasses, and a blue vest covering a purple sweater. The ski boots are green, and the skis yellow.
- Controls – The game can be controlled using the keyboard and/or mouse.
- Terrain – The various things you will come across going down the hill of SkiFree.
- Trees – small, large and dead. Dead trees can be burned by jumping over them.
- Jump – a rainbow colored bar which launches you upwards if you hit it.
- Stump – with a mushroom underneath
- Mogul – singly and in groups
- Chair lift chair and pole
- Slalom signs
- Moving obstacles
- Novice skiers
- Moving trees
- The Score Box
Abominable Snow Monster
Once the player has completed their run, the game does not abruptly end. Rather, the player continues skiing until they encounter an "abominable snow monster" who chases and attempts to eat the skier. From that point on, the player can ski until the monster catches and eats them.
The monster appears after the 2000 m mark and pursues the player downhill at high speed. Further down the hill (20–30 m) another monster also gives chase, but uphill. An angled route while playing in "fast" mode avoids both of them, but afterwards the distance starts counting down from −2000 m. The world loops around on itself, and everything outside the boundary of the piste triggers the monster. However, if the player returns within the invisible border, the monster stops.
Other snow monsters appear when the player travels 125 m upwards from the beginning or 500 m to the left or right. It is possible (but difficult) to be chased all the way through the course from −125 to 1985 m, thus generating a chase by two or three monsters past the end of the course.
- Creator Chris Pirih's Official SkiFree website
- Answers.com- Microsoft: The Best of Entertainment Pack Accessed August 10, 2007
- Gamespot.com entry for Microsoft: The Best of Entertainment Pack Accessed August 10, 2007
- SkiFree Everything 2
- "The Most Officialest SkiFree Home Page!" – Author Chris Pirih's website
- SkiFree can be played for free in the browser at the Internet Archive
- SkiFree for the TI-92 Plus graphing calculator