Elasto Mania is the primary inspiration for Skyturns. Its what I learned from there that makes the game so good. I want to tell the story about Elasto Mania to those who do not know it, and to show how it inspired Skyturns, the greatest mobile game of all time ;)
I was in military service around 2002, I was in a unit basicly retrieving fax and phone calls, some kind of grey labour, and we were in this little room without anything but a TV, a playstation 1, fax machines and a really old computer without internet connection. The older generation of military service guys who was there before my batch was playing Elasto Mania on this computer. It was pretty much the only thing installed and used on it. I had played Elasto Mania before so that I knew what it was, and kinda liked it, but what happens if its one of the few enjoyments in a room that you have to spend something like 8 hours per day for 10 months? Thats like 1500 hours of pretty boring downtime. The older guys were semi-competing in the game, bragging about getting a better time on some level, which got me interested if I could beat their time. Turns out I could, and the competition got more intense. It turns out this game had an astounding level of skill and depth. In a while I found out about Moposite and noticed that there were like real pros playing this game, and that they were so good at it that it was incomprehensible.
So we competed for a while, I got better, I finished all the levels and tried to get a decent time on all of them. After a while the competition kind of stalled since I was a bit too addicted and had all the best times among the military guys. But after military service I still would not stop playing the game. Over the next 10 years I would fire up Elasto Mania and just hoyl (trying a level over and over again trying to get a better time, elasto mania lingo) a level over and over as some kind of relaxing me-time. I worked a bit on my TT (total time for all the levels) and maybe I got to around 55 minutes. And well, the pros are at something like 35 min TT now. It is totally mind blowing. Here is a youtube vid of how the pros play the game, you should all be in awe:
The amazing thing about the game is how good and fast you can get by these micro adjustments. Which way you land makes all the difference. You can even use air acceleration to make micro adjustments to the angle of your bike. You can use a strange bug to bounce your bike. There are so many moves. And the levels were constructed without this skill level in mind so there is a huge amount of shortcuts available, and new shortcuts are still being discovered even after so much pro-play. There is also this level editor so you can play levels made by other players, and there are massive amounts of good extra levels, keeping the game alive for a long time. The later years I played mostly skint0r and 0lp level packs with many high quality levels.
What games can you still play after years, and still get better, and still find new ways to finish levels, still compete against your friends, and still make and play new levels with ease? Well there are not too many, those are really good games. Simple yet deep. I was intending to make such a game, and the end result is Skyturns.
Skyturns is not as deep as Elasto Mania. The subtlety of handling the runner in Skyturns is not as nuanced as in Elasto Mania, but its still really deep. I think it strikes a different balance of getting into the game, and the end depth of pro-play. Elasto Mania takes a looong time to understand at the level which it gets really addictive. My take on Skyturns is that it takes like one tenth of the time of Elasto Mania to get into the flow feeling of playing. And to me its a bit more beatiful, more spacious, and most important of all its a pretty good fit for the smart phone. Its Elasto Mania in a different package, and its right there, in your phone, waiting to be played. Waiting for you to find new levels, and beat your friends times.
Of course that takes us right to the idea of an online times system, and a public level editor… which are not done yet. Hopefully some day soon!
Anyway thank you thank you thank you Elasto Mania, its maker Balázs Rózsa, and its awesome community for this great game. Thank you for the inspiration to make Skyturns. And thank you for the thousand hours of enjoyment I have had :)