NINTENDO DS REVIEW: SNOOD 2: ON VACATION

Snood 2 is cheap alternative to owning the real "Bust A Move" game. by Cole Smith

December 21, 2005 - One can evade a copyright infringement suit by altering the original "copied" intellectual property or design by changing it sometimes by as a low as ten percent. That would amount to changing the last two notes in the Smoke on Water riff. Snood 2: On Vacation for the DS, is a blatant rip-off of Bust-a-Move. It features faces instead of colored balls so that's how it gets around the copyright law.

For ten bucks you can't go wrong if you like puzzle games and I, like a lot of males, suffer from a slight form of color blindness. I can't differentiate between closely shaded colors such as blues and purples and dark greens and light browns. For this reason the faces in Snood are much easier to distinguish, which means I'm not accidentally shooting my Snood at the wrong target although that does happen from time to time although that's attributed to lack of skill.

Snood as a rip-off, is not a particularly good rip-off. It doesn't compare to Bust-a-Move in presentation. Snood was developed by David Dobson as shareware and it found a cult audience mainly among college students. You can play the original and variations of it for free on your PC. The faces themselves have been copyrighted and are featured on coffee mugs and T-shirts. The faces which include skulls and various geometric Aztec symbols are truly bush league-looking sprites but I guess the appeal lies in the homespun quirkiness.

Snood 2 is not unlike the original Snood. Sure you can play it for free but if you want a portable version you're going to have to get this version - not that it will break your budget at under ten bucks.

I didn't think these Snoods could look any worse but they do when they're crowded on the relatively tiny screen of the DS. Not only am I color blind but now I need reading glasses - make that a microscope - to see this game on the DS.

The object of the game is to clear the screen of these ugly Snood faces. An entire group of some 60-plus faces hangs from the top of the screen, slowly descending to the bottom. Using the Snood cannon, you shoot a Snood face at a similar Snood face located in the top group in hopes of having three of them link together. This will cause them to disappear. Faces that are hanging underneath a link that you create will also disappear. You can clear screens faster by trying to make links as high as possible in the group since the faces underneath will disappear with the linked faces. There is a lot of strategy and skill involved and it heats up when you get into the competition mode.

You can move the cannon from left to right and if your shot is blocked by other faces you can try to bank it off the sides of the wall. There is definitely an addicting quality to this style of gameplay but I always keep in mind that Snood is not the originator of this gameplay. Nor is Snood even an improved version. It's those damn faces that people seem to love. As ugly as they are, they possess more character than colored balls.

So how does Snood 2: On Vacation implement the touch and dual screens? By relegating the lower screen to a touch-activated pause button. I have to admit the pause button is a great feature, it allows you to size up your challenge without the pressure of a time limit. But why not just allow the player to fire the Snood cannon whenever he or she wants? Have it so that it only launches a Snood when you press the button - and not before. In an effort to offer you more options, you can move the Pause screen to the top and have the action take place on the bottom screen. The Pause screen is no longer touch sensitive at the top. What the hell is the reason for this?

For competitive multi-player competition each player will require a copy of the game. That's a real drag since this game is very basic in design and could have certainly facilitated free multi-player modes to other systems. There are a decent variety of modes that will help you build skills in different areas but they're all just variations on the main theme.

The music is good. It's techno but it's got some drive to it with some strange melodies on top. The graphics are poor but that's part of the charm. I don't think I want to see what these faces would look like if they were re-rendered on the Xbox. It might be like Kiss without their makeup.

Snood 2 is really just an excuse for a cheap, portable puzzle game. However, it's the kind of game that should be on a phone and not on a sophisticated system such as the DS.

By Cole Smith
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Snood 2: On Vacation (DS)
1.5
Graphics
It's all about the faces. They are conveniently part of the trademark now.
4.0
Control
The physics are good but the projectile moves as though it's being pulled along with a string.
2.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is palatable but that's about it.
4.0
Play Value
The gameplay is addicting and the two-player mode can really get your competitive juices flowing.
3.0
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: DS
Dev: Destination Software
Pub: Gravity 1
Released: Dec 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Cole Smith

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best