SkiFree is a computer game created by Chris Pirih, who was working as a programmer at Microsoft at the time. The object of the game is to ski down an endless slope and avoid the obstacles.
Pirih had created SkiFree in C on his home computer for his own education and entertainment. The game eventually attracted the attention of a program manager for Microsoft Entertainment Pack when he noticed Pirih playing it at work, leading to the inclusion of the game in the next Entertainment Pack release with Pirih’s consent.
The game was featured in the Best of Windows Entertainment Pack and was available as a ported version for the original Macintosh. SkiFree was also one of seven games included in The Best of Entertainment Pack released for Game Boy Color in 2001.
In 1993, Pirih started work on a second version of the game, but it was abandoned for other projects as the original source code was lost. It was finally released in 2008.
Because the initial SkiFree release was a 16-bit Windows program, compatibility issues arose when running the game in newer versions of Windows. Pirih noted that users of Windows XP can configure the operating system to run 16-bit Windows programs, resolving the problem for some. Other solutions involve running Windows 3.1 in DOSBox.
On April 4, 2005, Pirih announced the rediscovery of the game’s source code and the creation of a 32-bit version of SkiFree. The updated version is available on his official SkiFree website.
At the beginning of the game, the user has four choices:
Enter the Free-style course (with the objective of collecting “style points” by doing flips, going over moguls, etc.).
Enter the Slalom course (with the objective of completing an opened slalom course in the shortest time possible).
Enter the Tree Slalom course (similar to the Slalom course, but longer, with narrower-spaced flags, and with trees interspersed).
Enter none of the courses, and just “ski free”.
On all courses, obstacles such as trees and rocks appear, as do non-player characters such as other skiers and fast-moving snowboarders. Collision with any obstruction causes the player to stop and may lose valuable time or points.
The game contained an undocumented “fast mode” feature, accessed by pressing the F key.