There can be few pleasures simpler in this world than skimming stones across an expanse of water. A relatively simple skill to pick up, it manages to both satisfy and relax the thrower, and of course it's free, provided you're near some water and can locate a few stones. All of which would seem to suggest that the pursuit wouldn't be an ideal subject for a mobile phone game. Why pay for an incredibly simple simulation of something that's free?
If we're brutally honest, we're still struggling to fathom out the answer to that question ourselves, and yet we've fallen in love with Skipping Stone.
Part of the reason for this undeniably lies with the sweet and quirky presentation. The visuals are colourful and cartoon-like throughout and filled with wonderful little touches from the changing expressions on your character's face to the incidental background animations.
However, the main reason is probably that the game doesn't really make any attempt to simulate the reality of stone-skimming at all. For starters, there's no need to worry about the angle of your throw, that flick of the wrist or even the type of rock you select - you simply press one button when a power bar is at its highest and your on-screen character hurls the stone out to sea. Moreover, where most of us are limited to a mere 3 or 4 skips and are lucky to get into double figures in terms of metres covered, here you can literally skip the stone for miles (our current record stands at 40.75km).
You see, unlike your standard stone skimming, here you actually take control of the stone once it's left the throwers arm, pressing a button to make it bounce on the water. Time this button press perfectly and the stone maintains its bouncing height and speed for the next skip, press the button too early or late and you'll lose a little height and speed for the next bounce until eventually your smiling stone disappears beneath the waves.
The control system works brilliantly, mimicking the simplicity of the original practice yet offering a prolonged challenge and you get instant feedback from the power bar and the smiling or miserable face of your stone. Just timing the button presses is harder than it sounds and requires concentration, and when you also throw in an eclectic range of power-ups and obstacles (from extra bounce and invisibility to helpful whales and obstructive octopuses) you end up with a pretty stern test of your reactions, too.
Persevere and your skill is rewarded though, with ever more obscure landscapes and backgrounds to enjoy (if you can bear to drag your eye off the bounce-meter - look out for the crazy ducks!) not to mention the coveted title as longest skipper on the high score table.
With its short games and repetitive nature of play (there are only two game modes distance and number of skips) Skipping Stone isn't the title to fill an hour-long train journey. What it is, however, is a wonderfully fun experience that you'll definitely want to keep dipping into either alone or with friends and it'll probably be several months before you allow it to sink off your phone.
7 / 10