Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl - Gold sees another great from the 3DS catalogue take the leap to the Nintendo Switch. The colourful RPG has been repackaged with all previous DLC and has been updated to take full advantage of the much beefier Switch hardware. Its mix of creature collecting, dungeon crawling, and Zelda-like combat has gone down a storm at home in Japan and now it's time for western audiences to see what all the fuss is about.
In Snack World, you play as a lone adventurer, who awakens completely stripped of their memories outside the colourful kingdom of Tutti Frutti. After resting up at the town's inn, you then assist the King in his hopeless attempts to impress his daughter, risking life and limb to obtain the hottest new product from her social media feed. You soon abandon this fruitless endeavour, however, as an unexpected occurrence offers you a glimpse to your past and reveals the true intent of your adventure.
The writing here we found to be top-notch as it persistently broke the fourth wall and made nods to other Level 5 projects such as Professor Layton. There was also a ton of adult humour here that we were surprised by given the cute and cartoonish vibe it offered. We do wish that things were voice-acted though, as the persistent one-liners and mumbles that the characters made over the dialogue did start to become frustrating rather quickly.
What we liked the most about Snack World's Zelda-inspired combat is how we were always encouraged to switch weapons on the fly. When hacking away at enemies your weapon's effectiveness will begin to falter and you'll want to have the right tool in hand to exploit a foe's particular weakness. Before setting out on a dungeon crawl you can equip a plethora of different weapons including swords, spears, crossbows and, axes - and these can be toggled instantly by pushing ZR. There's an absolutely obscene number of gear variants that can be obtained from looting and crafting too, which further extends the sense of variety.
Snack World also features elements of creature collecting - there are many weird and wonderful creatures known as 'snacks' that you can buddy up with to assist you in battle. There are five different types of snacks (attackers, defenders, trappers, supporters, and secret) and each come with their own specific moves and stat profiles. Snacks can either join your party or be equipped as a pocket snack, which allows you to transform into them for a very limited time. Being able to shapeshift into many of the quirky characters we met we turned out to be a real highlight, as was tactically assembling our team of newfound creatures.
Within Snack World there are side and story quests that can be undertaken and these are split into four categories: Training, Bounty, Recon, and Fetch. Outside of the story, the best quests saw us help the townsfolk of Tutti Frutti out with the many oddball situations they've gotten themselves into. We remember one memorable quest, for example, where we had to recover the lost journal of a masked melon before his embarrassing scribblings were made public. Sadly we found many of the side quests to be forgettable as they reused boss encounters and previously visited locales. These missions almost felt compulsory too as we kept finding ourself well below the recommended level for the next main story quest.
During quests, you'll delve deep into many procedurally generated dungeons that are lined with traps and teeming with hidden treasure. The dungeons themselves are quite linear by design but their layouts become more sprawling and complex as you progress with multiple buttons and keys for you to find to unlock later floors. We particularly liked the risk/reward elements that you can encounter. For example, an NPC you meet could give you a valuable item by interacting with them or turn out to be a tough enemy in disguise. Permadeath is present though, snd it's punishing. There are no checkpoints in dungeons so if you take a tumble even as late as a boss encounter, you'll be forced to make a restart.
It wasn't until we delved into the nitty-gritty for our review that we learnt of Snack World's origins on the 3DS - that's just how polished the visuals here really are. The rough edges and blurry textures sported by its older counterpart have been completely buffed out and everything we encountered on-screen felt bursting with colour and personality. The music here is another treat for the senses - the town square's jovial main theme was quickly looping around our head as we excitedly waited for our next play session.
Dungeon crawling doesn't have to be a lonely struggle as Snack World is playable in both local and online co-op with up to three other players. Questionably, it is only the side missions that can be played with a friend as all story content is exclusively locked to the single player. This is a puzzling omission but we're sure that playing with others can help to ease the repetition that we felt from playing these side distractions. What would have benefitted the online side of things further would be some form of trading system. Being able to swap gear and snacks in a similar fashion to Pokémon would have been a nice touch, even if it was restricted to post-game.
We're pleased that Western audiences have been given another shot at experiencing this delightful dungeon crawler in the form of this Gold edition. It's certainly teeming with personality, from its cheery visuals right through to its oddball humour. What's more, the mix of dungeon crawling, creature collecting, and RPG elements went down a treat. The side quests do feel repetitive though, and we can't fathom why co-op was absent from the story missions, but even that doesn't hold it back from being a firm recommendation from us to genre fans.
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