NBC Sports Speed Skating
If you're a speed freak, Abandon Mobile's NBC Sports Speed Skating should more than satisfy your lust for gold medals.
Abandon Mobile is bringing the 2006 Winter Games to your cell phone, one of which is NBC Sports Speed Skating. It's not nearly as enthralling as Bode Miller Alpine Racing or as addictive as NBC Sports Figure Skating, but if you're a speed skating freak it should more than satisfy your lust for gold medals.
In Speed Skating it's all about pumping. Rather than just requiring you to maneuver your skater, Abandon's crafted a rhythm game of sorts where you continuously have to press the OK/Home key to move your athlete's legs, so one pump for the left, one pump for the right, and so on and so forth. But doing this isn't easy. On the upper left corner of the screen are two energy meters, Speed and Stamina, and the object is to maintain a certain speed without draining your stamina meter, because doing so will cause your little guy, gal, or alien invader (there's no specific gender to choose so you're free to imagine whatever you like) to lust for a few Gatorade shots.
But it's even tougher than that. In the Speed meter there's this little red line and you have to keep your fluctuating energy from dipping below it, so to recap, you've got to pump your skater's legs and keep your speed past this little red line while making sure that you don't tire him out. It all seems a bit complicated at first, but this is the type of game where you'll probably screw up your first or even second try, but once you get the hang of things you'll quickly place first and second.
Much like Abandon's other NBC Sports games you still have the same ten plus countries to select from such as Germany, Russia, Korea, Great Britain, the US., and Sweden. You also have three different events to compete in, the 500, 1000, and 1500 meter races, so there's a bit of variety to enjoy, especially after you've bested the 500 and are looking for a bit more challenge. As for game modes, there's Single Race which will just plop you into a contest, Full Competition that lasts quite a bit longer, Practice (you'll need it), and finally Multiplayer, where you can pass the phone back and forth with friends to see who can score the best time.
The visuals in the game are fairly decent. The four skaters on screen are animated well, and the game has a good sensation of speed. Plus, the NBC Sports presentation that been carefully implemented looks fine, though it's missing the announcer from Abandon's other games.
Personally, I found the game to be a bit hard, though Abandon assured me that it's still tweaking the gameplay. But even with a couple more development months to go NBC Sports Speed Skating is a solid title that should appeal to sports fans. 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 (Figure Skating and Bode Miller Alpine Racing being the other two) in January.