Yeti Sports: Pingu Throw has actually been around for ages as a hugely popular Flash game that has spawned all sorts of animal-launching spin-offs, sequels, and imitators. It’s also been released as an iTunes app, with a free ‘Lite’ trial version, so it’s no surprise to see it make the transition to the world of minis.
Initially, it’s really fun to play, just like the Flash game, but in order for such a simple Flash game to translate well onto a hand-held like the PSP, it really needs a little more depth, a little something extra to keep you going back for one more go. After playing Yeti Sports for many hours in the hope of finding any more depth to the gameplay than first impressions would indicate, I can safely say that there isn’t any!
That’s not to say it’s not a total blast to play, because it is, but the novelty wears thin after an hour or so, and with most of the other minis released so far being of such impressive quality with plenty of longevity and depth to the gameplay, Yeti Sports has a lot to live up to in comparison and it falls some way short of the mark.
The whole idea of the game couldn’t be simpler. You press X to make Pingu the Penguin jump off the rock, and then X again to have the Yeti hit him with his bat and launch him into the air. You then take control of Pingu in mid-air to ensure that he glides as far as possible.
Success in Yeti Sports is all about timing your bat swing just right so that you hit Pingu’s sweet spot (don’t like to even think where that might be!), causing him to squeak with delight, and sending him flying across the snowy landscape.
What you’ll learn with practice is that it’s best to hit Pingu as late into his initial dive as possible, when he’s almost reached the ground. This carries with it the risk of swinging too late and leaving him to fall headfirst in the snow (which, okay, does look really funny!), but time it right and you’ll send the little penguin soaring high on his way.
Once Pingu’s in mid-air, control shifts to the analog stick, the left and right d-pad buttons or the R and L shoulder buttons, whichever you feel most comfortable using to adjust his flight position. When you angle him just so, you’ll notice that he’s buoyed by air cushions that propel him even further.
There are two gameplay modes to choose from: Level and Classic. In Level, you unlock new levels by achieving certain distances and collecting the required amount of fish. There are three levels in total: Picky Penguin, Glorious Glide, and Weak Wave, all of which have 9 stages to complete.
Whereas with most games the incentive to unlock new levels comes from wanting to see new scenery and maybe even a different type of gameplay, in Yeti Sports you remain firmly stuck in the one playing area, and there’s no real discernible difference in the gameplay from level to level from what I can see. Maybe I’m missing something crucial and I’ll be glad to be proved wrong, but I really can’t see it.
In Classic mode there are no collectibles, it’s simply a matter of getting Pingu to glide as far as possible in order to achieve a high score on the leaderboard.
Graphics-wise, the winter wonderland, the crisp blue sky, and the cute characters all look great, but there’s only one field of play so you might get tired of looking at it after a while, I know I did.
Yeti Sports is not a bad game at all, but it’s frustrating to think that so much more could have been done with it in terms of adding more features, and the low score reflects that. To call it Yeti Sports is a misnomer, it’s only one sport, and that’s Pingu Throwing, yet there are other Flash versions of the game that feature several different sports, and it’s a great pity that these weren’t included in the minis version. At £2.49/€3.99 it’s certainly cheap enough, but I can’t see it holding the interest of all but the die-hard Flash game fans for too long.