Modern Snake Review

Modern Snake Review

May 10, 2013

Snake is one of those games everyone knows. It’s popularity was forged in the mall arcades of the 70s, and it has been ported to almost every platform. Ever. Everyone has redone it, and so any developer that touches it best come correct.

Modern Snake, at the very least, excels in the area of minimalist design. I liked that there were no extraneous elements; it kept enough familiar designs, like the segmented snake, and tossed in colors and touchscreen compatibility to differentiate it from the original forms. The green worked well on the stark white playing area. The developer did well to add options to spice up what would otherwise be a one-dimensional game. There were options to speed up or slowdown game speed, to have a two-player local game, to play with or without walls and to play with on-screen directional buttons or by snake1swiping.

Which brings us to the gameplay. It was great to see practically no long tutorial was needed; my job was to guide the perpetually forward-moving serpent as it consumed randomly pellets (which concurrently made it to grow by one unit). In the basic form, I had to avoid the walls of the playing area, as any direct head it ended the game. The trick was to be quick enough with my swipes/taps to get to the pellets without touching the walls or own tail.

As I mentioned earlier, the play options were nice. I was able to take a leaf from a popular alteration to the original gameplay and play without walls. In this format, instead of he wall causing an end to a play round, the snake went through and back in on the opposite side. On paper, it was easier to play, but not so much if the snake got too long, for obvious reasons.

I liked the game, and not just because I loved the original arcade game; this was a fresh take on a classic.

Nimble Quest Review

Nimble Quest Review

Apr 4, 2013

Nimble Quest, the latest from NimbleBit, starts off with an immediate nod to its direct influence, Snake. Before mobile games exploded, everyone enjoyed Snake on a Nokia mobile phone, because what else was there to do besides play Snake? So, immediately, it seems like there may not be much to this at all.

Nope. Nimble Quest takes that simple concept and makes it deeper and more fun than it has any right to be.

It starts by adding a bit of strategy to the standard Snake gameplay of turning left and right, avoiding walls and enemies. See, players control a character that has a special attack ability that triggers when near enemies, and they use that to take out enemies. Other heroes can be collected as drops from enemies that form parts of the snake, and can use their own individual attacks. Now, enemies can attack as well, so it becomes about staying out of danger, as the heroes have health bars that will quickly diminish, and if the lead hero dies, it’s game over. So, there’s a strategy to approaching the enemies, one that is about taking as little damage as possible.

Now, this is where the free-to-play elements start to be exposed in the design, but in the traditional non-intrusive NimbleBit way. See, the maximum number of heroes that can be used in a chain is equal to the number of heroes that are unlocked. Naturally, it gets easier to progress further as more heroes are available. The characters can be unlocked by reaching certain level milestones in the game, or by buying them via IAP. Boosts can be bought by spending tokens, earned through random drops, or by spending 1,000 gems, the common currency. Both can be bought via IAP as well. Gems are used for powerup upgrades along with character upgrades.

All this talk about the IAP obfuscates the fact that it’s perfectly possible to enjoy the game at its core. It’s simple to pick up, and can be enjoyed with one hand, and in any orientation desired. While there is a definite sense of progression, of getting better, that can be accelerated by spending money, it’s still possible to play the game without spending money. NimbleBit tests without having IAP enabled, and it shows – this is a game that is free to have fun with, though there’s plenty of reward for spending. It’s a great balance that works in the way that free-to-play absolutely should be. Unlocking everything will take a while, along with just trying to get high scores for each character, but there’s also a guild mode where players compete for their team to raise their total score. Join guild #148Apps and let’s take on the world!

Nimble Quest is another winner from NimbleBit. In a world where free-to-play can be annoying and exploitative of players, they’re showing that it’s possible to do it right.

Doodle Grub – Twisted Snake Review

Doodle Grub – Twisted Snake Review

Jun 29, 2011

It’s fair to say that if some Swedish mega-genius hadn’t decided to include Snake on Nokia’s early mobile phones, we might not be in the position that we are today. That simple act turned mobile phones into more than just phones that were mobile, and paved the way for the jack-of-all-trades multimedia devices we carry around with us today.

It seems fitting then that things have come round almost full circle. Doodle Grub is an attempt to recapture the glory days of 2D mobile phone gaming, with a bit of up-to-date polish and some rather more modern ideas about control than Nokia were able to implement in their clone of a clone. The question is, is this nostalgia gone mad or a welcome blast from the past?

First things first, Doodle Grub’s main difference from the original Snake, other than the way it looks, is the way it handles. You’re not pushing buttons or sliding your thumb around on an imaginary D-pad; instead you’re moving your snake, or grub, around using the accelerometer in your phone. In other words, to make the snake go left, you tilt your phone left.

It’s a system that almost works, but it’s not quite subtle enough to deal with the quick changes in speed and direction that the game calls for. Whilst you no longer have to dodge your own tail, there are plenty of other obstacles getting between you and the tasty apples you crave, including giant bugs, and the tilt controls just aren’t good enough when you need them most. It’s a shame, because the game’s other ideas all work really well. Some of the fruit you go after is rotten, and will lose you points if you eat it, and ladybugs act as Pacman style power pills, turning you into a spiky, bug killing machine.

Doodle Bug is a nice try to do something new with an old favourite. Sadly, it doesn’t quite pull it off, but it’s still worth a look if you fancy reliving the good old days when phone games were simple and sating the hunger of a four pixel wide snake was the only thing that mattered.