The Snake King
Developer: YeTa Games
Publisher: YeTa Games
Genre: Action, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 10/09/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
The Snake King replicates the classic gameplay loop of Snake while altering the formula. Instead of the classic Snake gameplay, The Snake King features one hundred and fifty levels where you maneuver through obstacles and collect apples. Collecting every apple will spark joy in players as they traverse the five worlds.
Generally, when a game does not feature any meaningful story content, it has a brief story to introduce the player to the game world, and to build lore. However, The Snake King opts to disregard this principle, and instead chooses to have no story elements whatsoever. Not only is there no story, but after completing the game, there is no credit sequence or cutscene showing the feat you accomplished. It leaves the player desiring closure and is extremely underwhelming.
The gameplay loop for The Snake King is extremely simple. In each level, there are a variety of rooms. Traversing the rooms, The Snake King will encounter apples, obstacles and the occasional powerups. Collecting all the apples in a room will unlock the next room, and to progress, the player must clear all rooms in each level.
Just like Snake, the snake in The Snake King can move around the screen by going up, down, left, or right. Moreover, there is a boost option, adding much needed speed to the sluggish Snake King. Unfortunately, the boost is limited, leading to a large amount of time where the player is forced to progress at a snail’s pace. Additionally, the boost is not replenished after the completion of the prior level. This means that the most efficient way to progress is to remain stationary in the beginning of each level and charge the desired boost.
Tick-Tock Mr. Snake
The Snake King features a timer that counts down. This does not add much additional strategy to the gameplay as the timer never expired for me. Instead of offering rewards for completing the level quickly, the timer implemented in The Snake King prohibits unskilled players from progressing in the game and does not challenge skilled players. Furthermore, the implementation of the timer most likely led to the decision that the player would have limited boost. The game would have been more enjoyable if the game encouraged blazing through levels and collecting the apples as quickly as possible. The decision to slow the pace of the game made the game monotonous without increasing the difficulty.
Not only were some of the design choices questionable, but the movement in The Snake King is extremely stiff. The snake does not turn instantly. It is only allowed to turn at the end of a block. Many deaths were caused by unresponsive controls, and it made navigating the levels extremely frustrating. Additionally, the snake can not turn when the boost meter is empty. This was never explained to the player, as there was no tutorial. In fact, it felt as though this was a bug, because it was extremely ridiculous to include. Regardless of whether that decision was intentional or not, the poor design choices and lack of polish show throughout the game.
Generally, puzzle games focus on intriguing level design. While not every level needs to be memorable, good puzzle games will make each level feel unique. Unfortunately, The Snake King does not do this. Instead of focusing the puzzles on squeezing through narrow gaps and calculating how many tiles would be needed to fit the snake, The Snake King achieves challenge by having the player complete simple rooms repeatedly and consecutively. Not only are all rooms easy, but the rooms lack their own identity. Each room feels the same as the last, and the main difference between the first level and the last one is how many rooms there are. Instead of making interesting and challenging puzzles, the difficulty feels artificial. The deaths are not because you lost to a challenging section but because the player did not beat enough easy sections to progress. The lack of interesting puzzles coupled with infrequent checkpoints will discourage players from continuing the game.
The items presented to the player in The Snake King could have provided interesting ways to alter the strategy used in the game. However, the powerups on offer are extremely underwhelming. Instead of altering the gameplay, they serve as mild alterations on the game. The watermelon makes the snake move slightly slower. The yellow square item decreases the length of the snake. The heart item gives the player the ability to die once and not completely restart the level. These power ups are soulless, and do not add significant strategy to the game. Additionally, some items seem to have no use. I was never able to use the fireball powerup. It blows up destructible items. However, dashing through those items has the same effect. In addition to the items, there are bombs occasionally put in the levels. Bombs will kill you instantly. This can be frustrating, especially when the bombs move sporadically. Overall, the items were lacking in innovation, but they had the potential to be interesting.
The sound design in The Snake King was underwhelming. In fact, I spent much of my time playing the game with the sound muted, as I found the music to be irritating. The sound effects are fine for the most part, but the music loops extremely frequently and was almost irritating to listen to. The soundtrack is not good.
The visuals are also disappointing. There are very few new assets introduced in the game and traversing through one hundred fifty levels that look nearly identical is extremely taxing. Additionally, there are issues with the UI. Using a fireball is inputted with the Y button. However, the UI shows an X button next to the fireballs, confusing the players. Additionally, the map screen is not innovative. One thing that stood out to me was that the death screen seemed like a placeholder. It does not fit the art style of the game, and it seems out of place. Despite this, the visuals are fine, and the information shown on the screen is visible. However, the lack of variety in visuals and illogical UI degrade the experience the game offers.
Additionally, there are various bugs in the game. Hitting a bomb will not only kill your snake, but it will soft lock the game. Additionally, moving items can pass through your snake, forcing the player to kill them to progress.
The Snake King is not a good game. The developers failed to innovate and missed out on what could have been an interesting puzzle game. As a result, the level design is poor, the movement is stiff, and the game was underwhelming. I did not enjoy my experience with The Snake King.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase The Snake King from the Nintendo eShop here.
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