Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl Gold Review — Fluffy Filler
Nintendo Switch has plenty of games, though the looter/dungeon crawler genre is surprisingly under-represented on the hybrid platform. Enter Level-5's Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl Gold, the developer's latest title to find its way west.
It's a Switch remake of a Nintendo 3DS title, and it combines RPG customization with looter and dungeon crawling mechanics, all wrapped in a quirky anime-type setting.
There's a ton of content, with crafting and weapon systems that go much deeper than you'd think. However, Snack World's structure ultimately works against these systems, turning it into a good filler game that's ultimately going to stay at the back of the pantry in favor of juicier offerings.
Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl Gold Review — Fluffy Filler
Snack World's story is bare-bones, but that's on purpose. Relying on generic RPG tropes and formats lets it poke fun at them on a regular basis, which is roughly half of Snack World's raison d'etre.
You create your hero and then get dropped into the Tutti-Frutti Kingdom, complete with amnesia and a thirst for adventure. There's a (very) loose plot involved, but most of your time is spent on errands for the fickle Princess Melonia.
It's ample fodder for breaking the fourth wall, from mentions of tutorials and fetch quests to gratitude over linearity making life easier for hard-pressed adventurers. When it's not indulging in fourth-wall-breaking, Snack World dials up the clever food puns to 15, putting them in names, gear, items, and even how your recruitable allies look.
Sometimes, though, it's a bit too satirical, and there's often not enough breathing space between jokes. Clever RPG puns are fine, but it's boring after five instances in 10 minutes.
The opening segments and quests are the worst offenders in this regard, though there's still a tendency to linger on what's supposed to come across as funny throughout the story. Since there's not much in the way of character development otherwise, all this sort of sets the tone for the game.
Less is definitely more in this case, but that's also just personal taste. Your mileage will vary depending on how you like your humor.
In between story beats, though, you do get a refreshing reprieve from this kind of chatter. The dialogue associated with quests is usually handled much better, with smirk-inducing titles like "Just Timber In Lake?" to dealing with upstart penguins who tried taking over a boss lair.
There is one other element of Snack World's writing and story that stands out as a bit out of place. It's absolutely stuffed full of sex jokes and innuendo. Finding a rare item triggers a still scene with an NPC message that usually relates to orgasms ("a hard one is about to pop," for example, spoken by the sex-mad bondage genies), while Chup wants his hands all over Princess Melonia's skin and her "lovely melons." And that's just the start of it.
Sexual humor and innuendo are fine on their own, but Snack World's brand of it just seems gratuitous. Sure, seeing how many sex jokes you can squeeze in is an exercise in creativity. But it's almost like Level-5 wanted to stop being associated with so-called children's games and went about trying to be an adult... exactly like a child would.
Snack World's gameplay, fortunately, offers more incentive to keep playing than the hit-and-miss story and writing, but it's not without problems either.
Like any dungeon crawler, your time is split between the central hub area complete with shops and the various dungeons scattered throughout the land. Whilst in the dungeons, you'll do the usual — defeat monsters and gather up as much loot as possible. Then it's back to town to sell the worthless stuff, spend your — often meager — reward, and see what new gear you can get with your spoils.
Fabrication is Snack World's word for its crafting system. You'll take bits and bobs you find on your travels and synthesize it to make new equipment that lets you take on bigger challenges, assuming you have the recipe for the items, of course. The requirements vary depending on the piece; some need items you'll get as quest rewards, while others require items of a specific color or type
Expect getting all you need to take a while though. One of Snack World's biggest flaws is the random nature of its loot drops. There's all manner of opportunities to get items, from treasure chests and their surprises of apparently orgasmic proportions, to enemy item drops, quest rewards, and random crud you just find lying around.
"Random" is key here. There's no telling what you'll get in most cases. Maybe you need three yellow items to finish a gear upgrade? That's probably going to take at least three runs through the same environments, fighting the same enemies, until you hopefully get what you need.
Fabrication itself isn't quite as polished as it should be. Say you start fabricating one thing, then acquire enough materials for something better — only, you just need that cotton fluff from the first item to complete it. Too bad. You have to go find more, because you can't stop a fabrication once it's started.
Snack World's combat and visual design mean this isn't quite the frustrating slog it sounds, at least not all the time. Combat is fairly simple action-RPG fare. You get access to a wide variety of Jaras, the name for Snack World's weapons and shields. Each attack Jara has a specific type — sword, axe, staff, and so on — along with skills and special moves you can charge up. Each Jara in these types has its own strengths against specific enemy types, but if you overuse it, your Jara Points run out, and you can't attack with it again for a minute or so.
Switching between Jaras and balancing your attacks is where Snack World's combat really shines. It's fairly mindless on the whole, especially during protracted boss fights, but there's enough strategy and fun in the process to keep you hooked and make dungeon crawls fairly fun. Character and enemy designs are bright and completely ridiculous in all the right ways too.
You also get Snack partners that act as allies in battle, but Level-5 decided to make these random as well. Like Yo-Kai Watch and Ni No Kuni, it's completely random if you get the chance to befriend a monster or not.
That's a bit of a pain for some of the longer fights where you don't get NPCs as combat allies, because your starting Snack is fairly weak — adorable, but weak. I'm not sure why Level-5 insists on implementing mechanics suitable for a mobile or gacha game into console titles, but it really is a practice the company needs to wean itself away from.
One final issue is the audio. The tracks are fairly forgettable overall, unfortunately, but there's a huge problem with the voice bytes. They play all. the. time.
And it's incredibly annoying, in conversations and combat alike, though especially in conversations where you might hear the same clip play three or four times over a short span. They're lumped in with sound effects, so if you turn that off, then everything else becomes silent too.
Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl Gold Review — The Bottom Line
- Lots of content and mission types
- Deep crafting system
- Engaging, if simple, combat
- Flat story and characters
- Stale humor
- Frustrating randomness to central components
- Context issues with writing
Even with its faults, I found myself wanting to take on another quest or two aside from the main story and see what I could hopefully craft after my exploits. It's not a bad way to pass some time, and random or not, there's a distinct feeling of satisfaction when you can finally assemble some new gear and take on those higher level quests. Whether I'd feel the same if I weren't reviewing the title and had other, meatier offerings to distract me, though, I can't say.
Still, if you're looking for some light fun, a decent if slightly frustrating crafting system, and plenty of missions to sink your teeth into, you could do worse than Snack World.
[Note: A copy of Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl Gold was provided by Nintendo of America for the purpose of this review.]