Get Thoopid With Snailboy, An Epic Adventure From South African Indie Devs
It’s been really awesome to get more invested in the local South African indie scene. After Vapour from Skobbejak Games and Broforce from Free Lives, I turned my attention to the mobile game Snailboy: An Epic Adventure, from Thoopid, a Cape Town (where I live!) based studio. Yep, because with my new Android phone, I can finally get into mobile gaming and the best it has to offer.
Right then, onto the topic of today. Snailboy is a physics based puzzle game, for iOS and Android, boasting gorgeous visuals, killer sounds and a large number of levels. Thoopid offered me a chance to get access to the pre-launch version of the game, and as soon as I downloaded it I jumped right into it.
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Before actually getting into the game, the first thing I noticed was how absolutely stunning it is. Snailboy seriously is one of the most beautiful mobile games I’ve seen. It’s rich with colour and detail, and the art direction is wonderful. The game has a very clean look in which everything is so easy on the eye while still being extremely attractive. There’s great visual variety too across the levels and chapters, and I’d definitely say that the graphics and art direction alone provide strong incentives to play this one through to the end. The game also really does have killer sounds, as is correctly advertised, and all in all as far as the audio and visual experience goes, it’s nothing short of brilliant.
The game and its premise is simple enough to explain. Through some quirky cartoony still cutscenes, you’re told that Snailboy’s prized collection of shells has been stolen by the sneaky Shadow Gang. That sets up Snailboy to go on an adventure in the hopes to reclaim them. You need to guide Snailboy in each level towards the blue portal goal, and in the final level of each chapter you’ll work towards getting one of your colourful shells back, which unlocks the next set of stages.
The gameplay involves you avoiding death traps, collecting slime and getting to the goal. You’ll do this using a number of simple actions. Dragging your finger from Snailboy’s feet allows you to catapult him in your selected direction. A white dotted line shows you whereabouts you’ll land, as well as give you an indication of the arc and power of your jump. In addition, swiping your finger either left or right on the screen slaps Snailboy, moving him on the ground with a small or big leap. The last element of gameplay involves surfaces that you can fling Snailboy onto, after which he’ll slide down until you tap the screen to make him stop, readying him for a jump. That makes up the majority of the gameplay.
It’s simple to play, and quite a lot of fun overall. Things start out pretty easy with you getting through the initial tutorial levels and avoiding death traps like a cactus or spiked plant, but in later chapters you’ll encounter enemies who force you to react quickly. Much like in Angry Birds, you acquire a rating out of three stars at the end of each level, which depends on the amount of slime you collected and the time you took. In order to get a three star rating, you need to complete the level quickly and collect all of the slime balls. If you’re not a completionist, each level can take you a minute or less, which makes things flow quite nicely, but for those who want to win totally, there’s a fair bit of replayability in it.
In the build I played, there were nine chapters with five levels in each, making for a total of 45 levels. I found the game to be quite addictive, and as a result I sped through the levels pretty fast. I’m very much impressed by Snailboy. It’s simple, compelling, entertaining and well put together leaving you with very little to complain about, although once I finished it I did have a few things nagging at me.
I fortunately got to dismiss my first issue when I discovered the shop on the main menu, although it did say “coming soon”. I was wondering what I could do with the collected slime and felt the game could do with some cool cosmetics and extras. Hopefully when it launches the shop will offer that. My main complaint though is that I was hoping for a little more gameplay variety. It all works great as is, but I was hoping to maybe confront the Shadow Gang or use the collected shells for something other than viewing pleasure, or perhaps engage in a snail race (maybe inspired by that upcoming Dreamworks movie Turbo about a nitros-powered snail), but the gameplay remains similar throughout. Nevertheless, the game does get more challenging and new obstacles do get introduced, but that’s definitely something to look at for future expansions or a sequel. I’d love to see more.
On a technical front, everything worked excellently and I was impressed by how fast the game is and how short loading times are. Unfortunately, I did notice small incidents of slow down, particularly when multiple slime balls are collected most likely due to the shiny mini green burst visual effect. And I also noticed a small response issue, where occasionally the game got confused with me trying to jump or ground leap, or simply didn’t register my finger movements, and it can cause one or two clumsy deaths. It’s nothing serious, but hopefully it’s something that can be corrected before launch. Lastly, my game crashed once or twice, but progress is always saved and this is the pre-launch beta so I’m really not worried about things like this, and I will be sure to evaluate again once the game is out.
Overall, Snailboy looks to be a great game from Thoopid, who I’ve seen been called the potential Rovio of Africa. I’d certainly love to see that, but let’s not put too much pressure on the team yet, and rather let them just make awesome games. I’m very happy with Snailboy, and there’s definitely some big potential there for more in the future, which I hope to see. There’s some fantastic talent behind this game, so here’s me wishing the best of luck to Thoopid for the game’s launch, which should be happening later this month. I’ll certainly return when it’s released, and more content becomes available.