App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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Was it really over a decade ago that I was going nuts with excitement at being able to play Snake 2 in two-player across two different phones using infra-red OMGWTFBBQ? Man, that makes me feel very, very old. Now I take for granted being able to play the likes of Street Fighter and Football Manager on my iPhone. Technology, it be quick. Of course, Snake left its legacy on phone gaming and then some, so it's no surprise that while technology speeds us along that our memories do stay rooted. In Sluggo I see a rather clever twist on Snake. Sadly, it doesn't excite me like Snake 2 did all those years ago.
This is an unfair comparison, mind; an extra flake in my ice cream sent me delirious back then. So let me start by underlining that clever twist Sluggo provides. Essentially, it's Snake in space. That may sound simple but actually it's pretty clever. Here's how it works. I drag my glowing Sluggo worm dude across the screen while a bunch of planets somewhat chaotically orbit around a central sun. The aim (as the name suggests) is to eat all the planets by moving Sluggo into them, but I have to do it in a specific order. Eat the planet highlighted, nom non nom. Bump into any other planet and a bit of Sluggo's tail falls off. When his tail's all gone, that's Game Over.
In principle, it's a strong idea. The different orbits and speeds of the differently sized planets make play chaotic, forcing me to duck and weave my way using the same skill and dexterity that let me rack up brilliant (but practically useless) high scores in Snake. The power-ups, coloured comets that glide across the screen sporadically, are also clever, things like freezing the planets or making them gravitate towards Sluggo in that correct order.
Where Sluggo falls down is how condensed and confused it all becomes. It's strange because in the first few of the game's 45 levels it starts off really easy, and for quite a few levels it doesn't even feel like a game. And then by the mid-way point there are so many planets within such a small screen space on my iPhone that inevitably it feels more like luck of the draw when I do progress. Ultimately, the only thing that's really changing between levels is that density of planets, so it's very easy to feel like once I've reached my breaking point there's little point in continuing on. It also doesn't help that the comets aren't obviously discernible from the planets beyond their glow and trajectory. In the chaos of later levels it's easy to get them mixed up.
When Sluggo clicks it feels every bit as potentially time-sapping as Snake, such is the strength of the idea behind it. It's a shame, then, that the execution isn't quite up to the same standard.