Level 5 has been good to Switch owners once again, repackaging yet another title for the platform from its vast treasure trove of past releases. We've seen Layton's Mystery Journey and Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Which take new form on the hybrid console and now Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl - Gold has received the same treatment. Unlike the aforementioned pair of titles that were derived from juggernaut franchises, Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl - Gold marks the first release for the series outside of Japan and we were keen to see if it had what it takes to captivate western audiences just like it seems to back home.
For the preview, we were able to play through the first three chapters and started by creating our character before being cast into an all too familiar tale of a lone adventurer suffering from a bad case of amnesia. It wasn't long after coming around before we found ourselves setting out on our first adventure to recover a rare gemstone from the snake-headed Medusa in an attempt to please the king's spoilt brat of a daughter.
Right off the bat, we loved how self-aware and funny the script was as it proceeded to break the fourth wall and poke fun at many RPG tropes. What did feel a little directionless, however, was the tone as it flirted on occasion with adult humour while on the surface appearing innocently cute and cartoonish. With the translation, there's an absence of voice acting (although sometimes they mumble incoherently instead) and the characters repeat the same phrases during written dialogue. We wish the devs had opted for the silent approach, much like Pokémon, as we found this approach was starting to get annoying and it made the fast forward button feel awfully tempting.
Snack World plays very much like a classic Zelda title but sprinkles in roguelike elements and tons of randomised loot for you to find. Combat requires you to roll out of the way of your opponent's telegraphed attacks (they show in red) and respond with a well-timed slash or charged special move. The simplistic nature of the combat appeared to the game's detriment at first but the sheer variety of enemies helped to keep things fresh as we had to constantly adapt to different attack patterns. Players can wield knives, spears, and swords and there looks to be a deep crafting system present where you can fortify your existing gear and also craft new pieces such as armour sets from dropped materials.
Something that Snack World borrows from its roguelike influences is its inclusion of permadeath during quests, which can feel a little punishing. If you find yourself falling to a boss then you are forced to start the quest again as there are no available checkpoints. We found this heartbreaking after sinking almost 30 minutes into one quest, but the bright side of this is that we were able to keep all the XP and loot gathered during our failed outing. Snack World also features fully randomised dungeons which also helps to dull the sting of death as the mixed-up layout and enemy placement doesn't feel like a complete repetition.
If you hadn't done your homework we could see why you could easily think Snack World was built from the ground up for the Switch; with the jump to platforms the rough textures have been smooth out and everything looks much more refined. From a visual standpoint, it feels much more like a remake than a port, which helps to give the Switch version a definite edge (along with the fact that it adds all previous DLCs released within Japan). When it comes to some of the gameplay, however, there's no disguising that this is a souped-up 3DS game. Quest areas are cramped and separated by loading screens and missions feel short and succinct as if they were crafted specifically for on-the-go play.
With its additional content and improved visuals, Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl - Gold certainly appears to be an improvement over its 3DS counterpart, but our early impression is that the level design can feel a little dated and the system around the permadeath can be a source of frustration. We did, however, enjoy the self-aware presentation and the randomised dungeons, while the classic Zelda-inspired action seems to gel well. With our feelings pretty mixed after our short time with Snack World, we're hoping that there's more to feast on in the game's later stages.
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