Published on September 11th, 2013 | by Craig Forshey0
Hands On With Thoopid’s Unique Physics Platformer Snailboy
When it comes to varying gaming genres, some have fared better than others in regards to adapting themselves to the touch screen environment, a recent and necessary process that has literally redefined how we play games. While mobile devices have been a boon to the Strategy and Racing genres, the lack of any physical control input has made it difficult to say the least for more traditionally minded genres like platformers to find a happy medium between accessibility and gameplay. This has led to a divisive conversation about how best to approach designing the modern equivalent of the next mobile “Super Mario Bros” or “Sonic The Hedgehog”.
The point of contention between these two schools of thought has to do with their perception of the touch screen control schemes efficacy, or lack thereof. Some believe that it’s possible to shoehorn in the functionality of a physical gamepad onto a flat surface devoid of any tactile feedback, where others have opted for a more intuitive approach that uses the touchscreen to its advantage rather than fighting against it. While the jury has been out on which of these two viewpoints is more appropriate for creating an Android platformer, there is no denying the innovative control scheme concepts this debate has helped spark.
Indie developer Thoopid may have just won the argument for more intuitive control schemes in platforming with its upcoming physics platformer Snailboy, a jaw- droppingly gorgeous sidescroller that incorporates both old and new school design into one of most impressive Android platformers we’ve ever seen.
Snails aren’t inherently cuddly creatures, but that hasn’t stopped Thoopid from managing to make Snailboy into a lovable mascot prone to hilarious poses. It seems Snailboy has lost his prized shell collection, no thanks to the villainous Shadow Gang who’ve ambushed our mollusky protagonist while he’s asleep. Luckily for Snailboy snails are apparently really agile without their shells, a development that allows him to leap and run his away around the lush and beautifully animated forest scenery in a quest for the lost shells. Snailboy can also easily stick to walls ala Stretch Armstrong which adds a distinctly unique feel to the gameplay.
Rather than control Snailboy with a virtual d-pad and buttons, players guide him around each level using a series of intuitive gestures. By dragging back on Snailboy they’ll be able to aim and launch him around each level in a fashion similar to the Angry Birds games. It takes more than good aim to master this game though as players will also need to tap Snailboy to stick to surfaces and even slap him around a bit in order to get by areas where launching through the air would prove deadly. As players progress through the levels more advanced concepts are introduced to keep the gameplay fresh.
To say Snailboy is a good looking game is an understatement. Charming character design, beautiful environments, and buttery smooth animations easily make Snailboy one of the best looking, if not THE best looking 2D platformers on Android. This is all thanks to a graphical rendering technique somewhat like what was used in the SNES’s Donkey Kong Country, but with a modern twist that makes full use of the technique’s potential. By pre-rendering every aspect of the game’s graphics before hand, Thoopid has given Snailboy a level of visual quality you’d normally find in a AAA console title. This is a game that has to be seen in motion to truly appreciate just how good it looks.
All the action is accompanied by a soothing soundtrack full of nature inspired melodies fans of games like Rayman will adore. As players fling and slide their way around each level ambient noises like the chirping of birds will provide an abundance of personality to the environment, reminding players the forest is a living, breathing entity of its own in a way.
Gorgeous, unique, and addicting, Snailboy is shaping up to be one of the best games of 2013.
It’ll be launching later this month on iOS with an Android version following soon after. Thoopid will also be releasing a port for the Android based OUYA console in the future as well.