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Snakenoid Deluxe - DSiWare Review

Game Info
Snakenoid Deluxe

DSiWare | CINEMAX | 1 Player | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
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31st May 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

Combining elements of two games that people have, at one time or another, found themselves addicted to, Snakenoid Deluxe is a somewhat interesting attempt at meshing two arcade concepts into one single product. That gives it, you would think, double the chance of being able to slither away from the pit of mediocrity. While Snakenoid Deluxe may be easy to talk about from a conceptual standpoint, is it just as easy to recommend? Let's find out.

    If you were to initiate a DNA analysis of the snake character featured in this game, you'd find it to be one part soccer athlete, one part dog, and two parts dragon. Sounds like one heck of a creature to play fetch with -- if it actually looked the part. Players need to use either the snake's head or the extensions of its growing tail to push the ball upwards as gravity attempts to pull it down. Force must be applied to send it anywhere, as any headers done after the starting position are not automatic, nor is the snake's surface particularly bouncy. The ball is lightweight and does not pick up in speed as you make consecutive returns, so it becomes more of a manual thing that you need to have greater control over than a traditional paddle.

    Instead of using the ball to demolish bricks, these have been replaced with circular stones marked with seashell markings. Also mixed in are a series of aquatic creatures, including fish, octopi and crabs; the latter of which irritatingly re-create cleared stones. As new enemies are gradually introduced -- which admittedly aren't that many -- brief animated movies are shown with evidence of compression. These movies are also used as an introduction to specific stages that serve as this game's versions of boss encounters. One of these is a red snake enemy who acts like a Pong brother by going after the ball at all times, trying to bounce it back into your area. These are typically unexciting in all honesty, but they do serve a purpose in adding a bit of variety, even if it isn't a particularly strong attempt.

    To help you take down your enemies, you have your usual band of score bonuses and ball modifiers as per the base game's tie-in to Arkanoid. There's a bit of Pac-Man in here too; by way of the Crunch Time power-up, players can consume enemies that make their way to the lower screen. One of the first things the game does as a hand-shaking gesture is the inconsistent combination of power-ups. Not all of them can be stacked on top of one another, so in the case of the multiball power-up, for example, there can only be three in play at a time. Even if you get the same power-up again, the number of balls won't suddenly expand to include six, and then 12 if you were to get it again. Some may not consider it a flaw inasmuch as it's more irritating not to have this aspect brought over. Considering the game is, for all intents and purposes, attempting to capitalize on arcade successes that have certain identifying features, you would expect such features to be present in a game that is closely fashioned after them.

On a similar note, what you would normally expect to get from your often-looked-forward-to laser power-up has now been somewhat embedded into the character itself. This is where the dragon reference comes in, because just by spinning the snake around in circles or figure eights, flames will start to appear that you can then use to spew a fireball at a block or an enemy on the upper screen. Building up energy in the bar on the bottom-left corner of the Touch Screen isn't arduous; in fact, these abilities are somewhat easy to come by, minimizing frustration that could be had from having one pesky block remaining on the field. It still doesn't, however, protect you in all situations as stone rocks in later levels will prevent you from reaching a few blocks using this tactic. The mechanics of how this all works is by no means difficult to get used to, so when you bring in anyone belonging to a younger audience, it's likely going to generate a bit of fun just having them toy with the stylus and watch as the snake loyally follows.

    What hampers the possibility of having fun with this title is the fact that the physics feel off. I touched on this for a bit earlier on in the review when describing the ball's patterns, but basically, instead of having the ball pick up in speed as it crashes into objects, acceleration instantly slows down almost by half. The process of having to direct your blows, as it were, with respect to jerking the ball every time it descends to the lower screen can prove to be irritating when your tail unintentionally whips it in the wrong direction, or when you find yourself up against the edges and have trouble directing your shot accordingly. Furthermore, even where the Speed Up power-up is concerned, the increases and decreases of the balls speed aren't consistent. There was an instance where, after a single bounce, the ball went flying across the screen. There was (and never is) no evidence of a build-up; plus, when you find yourself in similar situations, the ball doesn't respond to the same effect as was just described. When you also add in the fact that the game at times presents a pace that can appear sluggish, this is one reason why Snakenoid Deluxe comes across as a bland experience.

    The second matter has to do with the music. While I did find the boss theme to be surprisingly good, the rest of the music created for this game is generic and boring; worse yet, not all of it is fitting either. There was one particular tune that sounded better suited for a factory environment than an underwater one. Stemming off that, the look of the game is decent with a mixture of different fonts used (again, inconsistencies) and average animations. And just a brief technical note, one thing I noticed was that pausing tends to disrupt the game's ability to recognize the stylus even if you keep it rested in the same spot. 

As far as what you get for your money, the standard Arcade Mode is governed by the principles outlined above, while Challenge Mode features the same layouts but with no fiery snake trail to work with (unless the Power Ball is active). That actually made the game less fun, I found. The levels featured here are not randomly generated, meaning that the layouts and the power-ups remain the same in each session, so that's something to keep in mind. Other than an unlockable Unlimited option, that's about all she wrote. I must admit, given the fact that titles offered at the $2 price point have offered more content and fun factor, I did expect more from Snakenoid Deluxe as a $5 download. Thus, value and replayability are two things I cannot rightly praise the game on.

    As an idea, Snakenoid Deluxe works fine but not well enough to be worth buying over other time-wasters on the DSiWare service. Never mind the fact that the gameplay is a bit bland in its execution, there are definitely better offerings available in terms of value and overall experience. The game, overall, feels like a licensed game that lacks any kind of potential to take off. So while I could possibly see kids having a bit of fun with this, I don't think anyone else should bother giving it a go.

17/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10 - An interesting idea but the execution is on the bland side, easy to get used to, inconsistencies in more than one area, unexciting bosses
Presentation 6/10 - The look of the game is decent, music contributes to the bland feeling of the game, movies are a nice touch but they are compressed
Enjoyment 2/5 - Not very fun to play, kids might be able to derive some enjoyment from it, feels average at best
Extra Content 3/5 - Challenge Mode makes the game less fun, unlockable mode, stages remain the same, value could be better

Equivalent to a score of 57% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Snakenoid Deluxe
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