NBC Sports Figure Skating
The real question isn't why has Abandon Mobile developed this game, but rather, why did has it taken so damn long for someone to do it?
When I first heard of Abandon Mobile's NBC Sports Figure Skating my first reaction was to exclaim, WTF!?! But after playing it for just a few seconds my dirty expletive mutated into, why not!?! I mean seriously. We've got games that ask you to shake maracas, hop about on plastic dance mats, and even strum a plastic guitar. The real question isn't why has Abandon Mobile developed this game, but rather, why did has it taken so damn long for someone to do it? Yes, it's pretty damn good.
What the developers have done is build this into a rhythm game of sorts. On your phone will be some random blond girl, and underneath her is a set of yellow brackets. Once she gets going (and it's a 2D game, so she skates from left to right), numbers slowly begin moving past these brackets, and the object is to hit the corresponding number on your keypad at the exact moment when the number and brackets meet. Doing this correctly will cause her to perform one of 15 tricks such as the Toe Flip, Single Leg Spin, and the famous Triple Axel.
The game only uses numbers one through 6, but this handful of digits will most likely give you fits. Things start out simple enough, with a single number casually floating across the bottom of the screen, but after a few seconds they'll become faster and appear in greater numbers, so that one you just pressed will eventually become one, six, five, four, three, three, one, two, and if you press the button too late or hit the wrong key she'll bust her ass.
Beating this game is not easy. You're out to receive the best score possible, but performing mediocre will always result in failure. You really need to hit those numbers at the best possible time otherwise she'll be sulking on the bench or even worse, crying like a little girl (literally).
To drive home the experience, Abandon's added some cool touches such as the NBC Sports logo, a female announcer with textual dialogue, the ability to construct your own routines, and the famous gold, silver, and bronze medal podiums. You can even track other players' high scores online. It's not especially sophisticated stuff, yet most hand sets aren't particularly sophisticated, so the developers did what they could because of the limited technology. The game's 2D graphics are simplistic, but again, the least powerful cell phones needed to be considered in order to appeal to the mass market.
Of the three NBC Sports games (Bode Miller Alpine Racing and Speed Skating being other two), Figure Skating is my favorite. It has a great pick up and play nature to it that adds tons of replay value and it's fun. But what I'd really like to see is a full fledged and 3D console version that features more countries and tricks. Given this sport's fan base, this would sell to Sony's immense PS2 user base.
Look for all of Abandon Mobile's titles during the 2006 Winter Games that begin airing February 10, where they will be heavily advertised on both television as well as NBCOlympics.com. However, if you don't want to wait that long you'll be able to download all three games (Alpine Racing and Speed Skating being the other two) in January.