As vehicular nomenclature goes, 'Snakeybus' is just about as apt as 'Boaty McBoatface'. Your primary means of locomotion in Snakeybus is a bus that's well and truly snake-like. It's a snakey-bus. Not that it eats mice or hisses at you or anything. Rather, your physics-defying vehicle stretches out to improbable, city-enveloping lengths as you pick up fares and deposit them at their designated drop-off points.
It's a rare driving game where you have to worry about where you've been as much as where you're going. Just like the classic mobile phone game Snake, from which Snakeybus clearly draws an awful lot of inspiration, you run the increasing risk of running into your own tail the longer your run lasts. While that doesn't mean instant death, it does threaten to stop you in your tracks. And like the film Speed, this bus has to keep moving to stay alive.
Thankfully, the controls are super-simple. Your bus (or whatever form of locomotion you unlock and select) auto-accelerates, but you can add extra impetus with ZR, and brake with ZL. B will supply a handbrake-turn effect, while L serves as a jump when on the floor and a vertical rocket boost in the air.
Snakeybus isn't a graphically rich game by any means. The textures are basic, and there are noticeable instances of pop-in. The physics are similarly prosaic, with a discernible degree of jank to every clipped edge and congested alley.
Even with these technical limitations, though, the game has a surprising capacity to make you go 'ooh'. There's something about doubling back on yourself and witnessing your hyper-extended tail looping over a city vista that's undeniably impressive. It's even more impressive that the action doesn't slow to a crawl, either in docked or handheld. Sure, the frame rate chugs a little, but not calamitously so.
That said, this is a game that looks and plays much better in docked mode. When you're hooning around a busy Paris or Miami street, looking for that next pick-up or tight turn on the horizon, the extra resolution and detail really helps.
You get a modest scattering of levels here, but they offer a pleasing degree of variation. The first miniaturised level is arguably one of the trickiest (or at least the most annoying) thanks to its tight nature, full of snagging chair legs and dead-end corners. Rainy Seattle, by contrast, is all orderly grid systems and run-preserving escape ramps. The modern art museum resembles a giant skate park, with a Möbius strip shape and a central drop off point making it great for high scores.
Indeed, there's a casual, unhurried feel to Snakeybus in general (Time Race mode aside) that makes it the ideal game for switching off your brain and zoning out. It's the kind of undemanding, uplifting experience many of us could use right now.