Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold Review — A Satisfying Bite to Eat
Snack World combines a tongue-in-cheek story with dungeon crawling, a loot system, and roguelike mechanics to make one surprisingly fun package.
Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold is the enhanced Nintendo Switch port of the original title Snack World: Trejarers, which was released in Japan in 2017 for 3DS and in 2018 for the Switch. This version includes all the DLC and expansion packs from the original version.
Immediately upon starting Snack World, you’ll notice the subversive, fourth-wall-breaking style of humor. It’s on similar levels to a game like Half Minute Hero. The game’s extremely meta introduction begins in which King Papaya points out all the issues that would realistically come with taking in some random adventurer passed out on the road outside his Kingdom and how doing so would put his people in danger. This, of course, is then thrown completely out the window once his incredibly spoiled daughter, Princess Melonia, decides that she needs a little excitement in her life and that this mysterious and amnesic adventurer, your customizable player character, is her ticket to alleviating her boredom.
However, once you’re all settled and medically treated, Melonia proceeds to completely forget about your existence as she goes on about a gem that she wants. The caveat is that this gem is located in an extremely dangerous area in which the normal kings’ guard cannot traverse. So, since your character clearly has nothing better to do at this point, they are tasked with retrieving this gem.
This entire ridiculous scenario reflects the overall plot of the game — if you can even call it a plot. To be fair, there is an actual story to Snack World, as the player and their party are eventually tasked with taking down the evil Sultan Vinegar as he attempts to resurrect the Deodragon, Smörg Åsbord. Yet, there’s such an intentional lack of urgency in actually achieving this goal that it becomes an almost running joke itself.
To be honest it’s refreshing to delve into an RPG that doesn’t overly concern itself with some super epic, complex tale of world conflict, an oppressive religion or government, or one that spends hours navel gazing about the duality of man. It’s a simple tale about an adventurer going on adventures because the princess wants things and then sometimes you fight a bad guy.
Joining you on your quest is Chup, the actual main character of the media franchise, and his party comprised of an inelegant witch, Mayonna; a muscular warrior, Béarnaise; a goblin-like creature, Gobsan; and a female pig-nosed dragon, Pigsy. Naturally, they’re as fun and dysfunctional as you’d imagine. That applies to the NPCs populating the world as well, as they often have witty, fun, and humorous dialogue that’s a blast to watch unfold as they interact with each other and your protagonist.
Snack World combines the genres and mechanics of action RPGs, dungeon crawlers, loot games, and roguelikes. So not only is the exploration and battling the main focus of gameplay, but there are also other systems that have a huge influence on how you play.
Because it’s a roguelike, dungeons are procedurally generated, which requires you to adapt to a brand new map and adjust your exploration accordingly. This gives the dungeon crawling a sense of tension and exhilaration and also pairs well with the loot system.
The loot system the title implements is one where item drops are randomized, which encourages repeated visits back into those randomly shifting dungeons in the first place, especially if you’re aiming to complete your collection or to optimize your equipment. The complementary nature of these two mechanics working in tandem creates this synergy that makes for very addictive gameplay all around.
Combat is action-based, normally implying fast-paced, no turn-based frills that allows players to dive right into the fray. However, you’ll find that before you can even begin to learn the fighting system, you need to adjust to the game’s clunky and cluttered UI. Players first have to overcome the obstacle of learning how to read and parse through the information that the UI displays on the screen, and then you realize that the gameplay system is actually pretty simple, making its presentation that much more frustrating.
Then there’s adjusting to the combat itself, as the controls — both attacks and the targeting system — can be a little slippery. But once you get past that hurdle, the actual combat system offers some great strategic depth. You’re allowed to carry six types of weapons, called jaras, on you at all times, along with two kinds of items. And you’ll find you’ll be needing to switch out jaras frequently thanks to the main mechanic: JP.
JP is measured in a gauge that goes down with every attack. It does recharge on its own but very slowly. Once you use up the JP for that jara, your wielding becomes compromised; your blows are much slower and much weaker to the point of being nearly completely worthless. Each jara has a type and foes are strong and weak to different types. For example, some enemies may be weak to swords but strong against hammers, or vice versa. This means that you have to constantly switch out jaras depending on enemy weaknesses as well.
These are simple mechanics but brilliant ones that prevent Snack World from being a mindless hack-and-slash. You have to think about what weapons you’re using and how often you’re using it, forcing you to pay attention to the information presented on the screen as you’re fighting. And if you choose to ignore this and dive headfirst, enemies, and especially bosses with their excellent AI, will absolutely punish you for it as early on as the tutorial levels.
The “Snack” mechanic, which is what the franchise is named after in the first place, allows you to summon whimsical creatures to aid you in battle. You can even trade these snacks with other real-life players. And though it’s a cute mechanic, I feel that it could have been more thoroughly utilized in battle, as it’s not difficult to ignore. Though you can make a case for these mechanics being easy to avoid, since it lets players fully customize the kind of experience they want to have. As a side note, Snack World also has online multiplayer and local four-player co-op for those who prefer to battle alongside friends instead.
Your character uses two types of equipment, which ties right back to the loot system. The first equipment type is the normal armor that denotes your offensive and defensive stats. The second type is your casual wear, which has a unique purpose. Located in the main menu is a tracker that informs players of the current daily fashion trends in the Kingdom, such as the most popular name, brand, or color. If you’re invested in collecting items, it’s imperative to pay attention to these trends because by properly outfitting your character with what’s most chic, you get a free percentage bonus on rare item drops.
And if you’re not that keen on the whole gear optimization because you simply enjoy the combat and exploration — a more than viable path as the game doesn’t punish taking the more conventional route — you’re free to almost completely ignore the more complex aspects. But if you decide that you want to collect rare and valuable items or equipment, these easy to obtain extra boosts are always available to you. Also, I find it a nice extra bit of world-building as it gives you a glimpse into the Tutti-Frutti Kingdom’s daily functions and routine.
The art style and graphics are, for lack of a better term, adorable. The use of a bright and vibrant color palette reflects the playful nature of the world well. Not to mention, the simplicity of the designs complement and enhance the simplicity of the plot as well as the style of humor. The variation in each dungeon’s designs, as well as the general environments, stand well on their own, too.
Snack World has a solid soundtrack, with each piece well suited for the setting, mood, characters, and scenery. While there’s no single track that’s worth writing home about, that’s no demerit. As an example, until Dragon Quest XI came by, the franchise had been using simplistic and retro-sounding tracks that never detracted from the overall experience. Although Snack World has higher quality music, it’s a similar scenario in the sense that the music is composed solely to compliment the game and not to be grand pieces that will be heralded as classics for years to come.
Overall, Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold is a fun title. It’s exactly what it sets out to be and it does so surprisingly well. While it’s not particularly complex in terms of either gameplay or story, there are surprisingly layered mechanics worth delving into if you enjoy light dungeon crawlers, roguelike games, or loot-based systems. Because of its jack-of-all-trades nature, each individual component isn’t as fleshed out as it would be in games devoted solely to one mechanic. However, when these components are combined, Snack World creates a unique system more than capable of scratching that itch for fans of those genres. In other words, it’s a game that’s greater than the sum of its parts.