Posted by Marcel van Duyn
Combining two classics into one disaster
Cinemax's last DSiWare game wasn't too hot, so we didn't exactly have high hopes for their second effort. It looks like our assumptions were correct, because although it borrows heavily from classics Arkanoid and Snake, it just doesn't work.
How does one combine Arkanoid and Snake, you ask? Simple: by taking the general gameplay of Arkanoid, and simply replacing the paddle with a snake. This sounds almost like it would change absolutely nothing, but it in fact changes everything - the snake can be dragged all over the bottom screen and must be moved into the ball at moderate speed in order to send it upwards to the blocks that need to be destroyed. This is pretty easy to do, but aiming is a completely different story.
Even if you move the snake into the ball directly from below, it just doesn't seem to want to go up, and will instead head diagonally upwards to the left or right. In the end it doesn't really matter too much, because you have to destroy every block anyway, but it makes precision elimination needlessly difficult.
Destroying a block will do one of three things: most often it will release a ball with a number in it. As you can guess, picking this up with your snake will get you some bonus points. Slightly more uncommon is a ball with an icon on it. Obviously, there are upgrades and downgrades, including speeding up and slowing down the ball, adding or removing extra body parts to your snake and more.
That's all well and good, but the third and final thing you can stumble across when breaking blocks is also the absolute worst - it's possible for the blocks to release enemies upon destruction! Some of these will opt to pelt you with ranged attacks from the top screen, which is fair enough, but others will make their way into the bottom screen and take up a sizeable portion of the play area while continuously moving around.
If your snake is of moderate length, there is almost no way to avoid getting hit, which results in the loss of three body parts, or killing you if you have fewer than that. And as enemies tend to go towards the far bottom first, it's almost impossible to hit and kill them with the ball before they become a nuisance; as this is based on Arkanoid, if your ball goes off the bottom of the screen you lose a life! To top things off there's also bosses, which are even worse than the standard enemies. Some of them will actually send out basic enemies to attack you while bombarding you with their own projectiles!
The game offers a total of three game modes, although there's not exactly much variety between them. Arcade mode is a simple high score affair where you try to get as many points as possible; in Challenge you will only play 20 levels but have multiple opportunities to play bonus stages, and in Unlimited (which must be unlocked by clearing Challenge) there are no short breaks between levels, which means that new blocks immediately appear and any undefeated enemies stay on-screen.
As with Sokomania, the graphics and music are completely forgettable. Both are slightly better this time, but that really doesn't matter much - it still looks, feels and sounds extremely cheap.
Snakenoid is a very small improvement on Sokomania, but that isn't exactly saying very much. For 500 Points you're getting a mixture of two classics which just doesn't work, resulting in an incredibly hard and frustrating gameplay experience. And again, the game feels really cheap - playing it will just make you want to play either of the two games it's "inspired" by instead.