Review: Snakenoid Deluxe (DSiWare)

In which the word "deluxe" is cheapened enormously

Last year, we reviewed Snakenoid, a Snake/Arkanoid hybrid from Cinemax that answered our question of how one could possibly combine the gameplay from those two games. That answer was, "pretty disappointingly, thanks for asking."

We felt it was a bit of a mess, at best, a complete waste of time and points at worst. It's finally available Stateside, which typically doesn't require another review, but since Snakenoid is now marketing itself as Snakenoid Deluxe, it's technically a different release and we have a chance to revisit the game and decide whether or not it's grown on us at all. It absolutely has not.

Read our Snakenoid review, because every word of it applies here. You'd be forgiven for believing that the "deluxe" added to the title reflects at least one additional feature. You'd be forgiven, but you'd be wrong.

Snakenoid Deluxe, as near as we can tell, is Snakenoid. Apart from slapping a "deluxe" beside the word Snakenoid in-game — which, amusingly, doesn't happen quite every time the title is seen — we can't discern much in the way of change at all. The game still plays atrociously, it doesn't contain any new gameplay modes or enemies and the graphics look identical. If there were any tweaks at all, they must have been pretty minor. That's a shame, because a game like Snakenoid could have done with a major overhaul.

You control the snake by dragging your stylus along the touch screen. Wherever you move, he moves. It's ostensibly your goal to bat the little red ball upward in order to destroy the blocks on the upper screen, but good luck with that. Games like Arkanoid understand the value of having a paddle that's... well... flat. Flat paddles give you the chance to plan your shots and predict where rebounding balls will go with a little bit of thought given to basic geometry. In Snakenoid you're bumping an awkwardly-shaped snake's head into a round object and there's absolutely no way of knowing where it's going to end up.

There's also no clear indication of how powerfully the ball will deflect. One would expect that a faster swipe would apply more force to the ball, but in practice there's no correlation at all between your speed with the stylus and the momentum behind the ball when it meanders aimlessly away. This is a huge problem which makes any kind of planning whatsoever impossible, and leaves you at the mercy of a game that doesn't seem much to respect your decisions as a player.

When you break blocks on the upper screen, power-ups, power-downs and points pick-ups are likely to fall out. The power-ups are all basic ball splitters and speed modifiers, and don't really shake up gameplay at all. Alternatively, an enemy could pop out and interfere with the movement of your ball, or even attack your snake. As you might imagine, introducing hordes of brainless enemies to the playing field only makes the game more frustrating, and deaths more cheap.

Arcade and Challenge Mode are unlocked from the start, and offer only slightly different variations on the above formula. Challenge Mode's gimmick is mainly that it's a gateway to unlocking Endless Mode, which provides the game with some additional urgency but ultimately offers no more satisfaction. The presentation is the same as ever: functional but dull graphics and a soundtrack that wouldn't leave an impression if you listened to it endlessly for a thousand years.

Conclusion

Snakenoid Deluxe is every bit as bad as Snakenoid, which is understandable, as it's practically the same game. We didn't enjoy it very much the first time, and this re-release for the sake of asking "do you like me yet?" gives us no reason to reconsider our stance. The controls are awful, the gameplay frustrating and unaddictive and the presentation is entirely forgettable. Join us again next year for our review of Snakenoid Deluxe Remastered.

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