As the resident indie lover, I was so pleased to get my hands on a local indie game, Snailboy. Part Angry Birds, part platformer, Snailboy is a beautifully realized iOS physics-based puzzle game from Cape Town-based developer, Thoopid.
The first thing I noticed when loading up Snailboy was just how beautiful it was. No, really – it is a visually stunning game, the likes you might expect from an experience mobile development house. The colors are crisp, the animations are well executed and the game immediately draws you in.
Gameplay is fairly simple. As a shell-less snail (no, not a slug), you must travel through levels finding a variety of snails for your pack. This means jumping over obstacles, sticking to walls, and even scooting along the ground when necessary. Along your way, you collect slime. This slime can be used to purchase upgrades, as well as buy extra lives. I ended up doing just this when I got stuck on a level and died over 20 times. Yeah, I’ve told you before, I suck at platformers!
The game starts off simple enough, with difficulty increasing as you progress. Soon spikes appear on walls, bugs start crawling and flying around to stab you, and platforms can no longer support your weight for long. I must say, when the platforms dropped and bees started flying, I actually enjoyed the game a bit less. I like to take my time setting up the perfect jumps – when I reached that part in the game I actually stopped worrying about going for a three-star result or collecting all the slime. Survival was all I cared about.
Like most mobile games, Snailboy is ideal for picking up and putting down. Play through a level while waiting for a meeting, although I think it best to play somewhere you’re alone so that you can keep the volume on. One of the tips says that you can enjoy the game best with headphones on – definitely a true statement. Fantastic sound and art direct on this project.
However, there are some things that aren’t great with Snailboy. For the most part, the controls are easy and intuitive. However, the scooting movement is done by “slapping” (actually swiping) Snailboy. A small slap moves him a short distance while a large slap moves him a greater distance. Unfortunately, the differentiation between the two swipes is not very well done – I often found myself slapping him clean off a platform instead of just scooting forward a bit. Or, I’d want to move along a level and have to keep slapping him like a childish girl-fight.
I had a completely glitch-free experience on my iPhone 5. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Geoff, who desperately needs an upgrade. The iPhone 4 simply couldn’t handle Snailboy – he kept getting stuck and the game was very buggy for him. Not a good time.
Looking or listening to Snailboy, you might expect a bit more from this game. It’s generally well done, but I suppose I was expecting something a bit deeper based on the aesthetics. It’s a fun game, and definitely well worth the $2 it costs. Just don’t expect it to revolutionize the mobile gaming world. I’d wait for Snailboy 2 on that one.