It seems like just yesterday that upon launch of the Facebook Application Directory, the very few outspoken proponents of the new app world pondered when big brands would jump in to the space. Back then in 2007, one of the first big brand sponsorships ever announced was when HP decided to jump on board with the “Graffiti” application in late 2007. Well, they’re back again, this time with a snowboarding game.
The introduction video will have you as excited as you could possibly get about a Facebook applications. With a full production video introduction video shouting out the various moves within the game like “The BooyahIt’s a bit strange that they manage to squeeze in an advertisement for an HP laptop, but whatever. As the on-screen players holler in enjoyment, you’re also treated to some pretty impressive graphics of the game. It’s a pretty neat setup and certainly a step above the introductions for most Facebook Games (although Playfish is raising the bar with Gangster City).
Being a long-time social gamer, I’m not such a huge fan of the next screen in this game. After seeing some brief instructions, I clicked “play now”, which immediately took me to a page where I’m asked to log in and sign up to the HP Games world. Games on Facebook are always best when they leverage the “one-click and play” techniques, and it’s doubly as important if I just clicked “play now”. The better option here would be for HP to ask for information after I’d played my first round. In any case “play as a guest” was an option, so I chose it.
The game is meant to be easy to pick up and play, and it is. You attempt to do your three basic tricks to activate the “booyah” super trick. You can chain tricks during jumps, and can actually get a decent amount of speed. It’s a pretty quick and easy thrill, and I had a good time with it at first.
Unfortunately, the game has some control and polish issues that need to be addressed before it can really compete with other two-dimensional snowboarding games. For one thing, picking up speed is too slow, and if you miss a few jumps, you can never regain enough speed to finish the track. When you do run out of time, there is no warning and you immediately cut to your game over screen. Finally, it’s minor but the fact that there is no animation when you jump is very jarring, although the effect is hilarious.
The big bonus here is that if you complete all the tracks in a week, you’re entered into a contest to win one of several cool laptops. It is not a skill based competition (this type of tournament is legally tricky), but rather a raffle which you gain entry to by completing courses. Overall, with the prizing, this is an application worth your time.
HP and Intel’s application here isn’t their first. Intel has been into Facebook applications for a little while, with their last application, Progress Thru Processors, was devoted to using Intel personal computers’ spare processing power to help complete computer simulations of Malaria treatments in Africa and climate change solutions. I wonder if we’ll see more from them. HP certainly will, as the game is under “apps.facebook.com/hpgames”, indicating they may try to run other promotions in this space with users who have already signed up.