Snuggle Truck is a game with quite a history and it’s interesting to watch indie games become controversial and funny at the same time.
Snuggle Truck is developed by Owlchemy Labs and so far it has managed to gather millions of downloads, on all available platforms, without mentioning the recent port to Linux.
Before reviewing the game, there are a few items to discuss and present to the audience. First of all, after I installed Snuggle Truck something struck me as odd. I played the game a while back and I was sure it was about a truck carrying immigrants over the border.
Now, it appears that the theme and the name of the original game were changed. After some research, I found out there is an interesting story behind the development of the game. As usual, it involves some sensitive American politicians.
During Boston Game Jam, in 2010, a weekend long coding marathon that had a specific theme, immigration, emigration and cultural clashes
, Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration was born. It’s developers, Alex Schwartz, Yilmaz Kiymaz and a few others, made a small game where a truck would carry illegal immigrants across the Mexican border.
The game was a success, therefore the developers formed a studio called Owlchemy Labs with the intent of creating a full game, for all platforms and smartphones alike, with the same title, but a lot bigger and better.
It stands to reason that some Americans were appalled, especially those that dealt directly with these issues. Even the Associated Press published an article on the subject.
The game was eventually launched and, lo and behold, Apple refused to publish it. Therefore, the game was changed in order to appease Apple and transformed from Smuggle Truck to Snuggle Truck with a different theme, switched from Mexicans crossing the border to animals that need to get faster and safer to the Zoo.
The reason I enunciated this story is because I want players to have this in mind while animals are flying through the air and to know the main and real purpose of the game.Installation
Snuggle Truck is available for both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms (.deb files), but the developers have also provided a .zip archive with the game developed in flash.
For Ubuntu distributions the installation should be quite simple. Just open a terminal in the directory where the .deb file is placed and enter the following command, for the 32-bit version:sudo dpkg –i snuggletruck_20120325-1_i386.deb
The 64-bit version of Snuggle Truck will install in the same manner, just replace the name of the file in the command above.Gameplay
As I've explained a little earlier, the principle is quite simple and anyone can get the hang of it. The players drive a small pick-up truck with some animals loaded on the back. The problem is that they are not strapped in and they bounce at every single bump on the road.
The levels don’t have a time limit attached to them, but users are encouraged to drive as fast as possible in order to obtain medals (bronze, silver and gold). These medals will unlock additional levels and there are also other two rewards for each level.
The goal of each level might seem simple to reach, but the fact that it’s tied with the medals, in order to advance, will push people to take risks, and eventually the animals will start flying all over the place.
The course is littered with obstacles, from fallen logs, to rocks and trampolines. In all fairness, there are some helpful items scattered on the landscape, such as boost rockets. Once activated, a canopy is placed over the animals and the car gains a lot of speed. Another bonus item is just a canopy that protects the animals from falling over.
From place to place, players will find stranded animals that are launched high up in the air, being the player’s job to try to catch them without slowing down the car. I also have to mention the dynamite. It litters a lot of the levels.The Bad
The game is physics based and I have yet to find a game that stays true in that sense. There are moments when the physics will not make the car or the animals act the way they’re supposed to. A small rock will send the animal flying through the air, although you have managed to get them over much bigger obstacles.The Good
This type of game is not all that new, even if it’s now a big part of the indie development culture. If I remember correctly, Elasto Mania was the first to try this kind of approach, although Snuggle Truck is a much more complex game.
Another great selling point for Snuggle Truck is the level editor which is really simple to use. Testimony to that stand tens of thousands of levels that are already created and which are available online.Conclusion
Even if they had to appease the gods of political correctness and transforme Smuggle Truck into Snuggle Truck, it’s still a fun game to play. Mexicans or pandas, who cares as long as the game provides an equal amount of fun and it entertains players.