Title: Snake Pass
Platform: Nintendo Switch eShop
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Sumo Digital
Release Date: March 28th, 2017 (NA)
This beaut comes from Sumo Digital, the makers of the Sonic All-Stars series which included Sega Superstars Tennis, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, and its sequel Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Snake Pass is the team’s first original IP and it’s a puzzle platforming game starring a snake and a hummingbird. How is it? I’ll tell you!
The game stars a snake named Noodle and his buddy a hummingbird named Doodle. You control Noodle by moving the left stick left to right to slither, and the ZR button to move forward. Slithering makes you move faster than simply going in a straight line. You press the A button to lift Noodle’s head to help direct him upwards and then using the left stick to try and curl around polls. It’s tricky, you have to wrap around polls to often grab items or to simply get up to the next platform, all without slipping off. You can hold ZL to grip onto whatever Noodle is latching on to, but movement is more limited when doing so. You need to balance (literally) moving a bit, making sure Noodle is in the right position, all while trying to not plummet to the void below, as there are numerous collectables over bottomless pits you will need to grab and then to get back on land to retain them.
The opening cutscene
Each level has numerous blue bubbles you need to collect, in a addition to 5 gold coins. The coins are often the hardest to get as some as mentioned can be over bottomless pits. The primary goal is to collect up to three keystones to open the portal at the end to clear the level, but for folks (like me) who like to 100% the game, the real challenge is the collectables.
The opening shot of the first level, Paradise Path
What’s truly special about the Switch version is that it was the first ever Unreal Engine 4 title on the system. In fact, Sumo had to get an early version from Epic themselves, and they got it running super quickly on the system. And despite running at the lowest resolution compared to the other consoles, it looks gorgeous and a true showpiece of the engine on the Switch. It blows my mind that a game like this is running on a Nintendo platform, especially one coming off the 3DS and even Wii U which didn’t even have native Unreal Engine 4 support (hell it struggled on some that PS3 and 360 supported, such as Cry Engine 3). Switch’s use of modern mobile hardware via the Tegra X1 by Nvidia is truly a work of art of technology, that something as small, portable, and compact as the Switch can be so capable, is out of this world.
Here’s a good boy!
Not to be forgetting, is the soundtrack by the legend himself, David Wise, the same man behind the Donkey Kong Country series’ soundtrack at Rareware, as well as Diddy Kong Racing and Star Fox Adventures. He even came back to compose Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. While this is not directly with Nintendo this time, it’s still a great soundtrack. Safe to say Sumo made a wise choice wouldn’t you say? I’ll see myself out…
The results screen showing the collectables
Overall, I love this game, it’s gorgeous, fun to play though challenging, and just an overall impressive title and I can’t wait to see what Sumo Digital have next for Switch. How about knocking on Raw Thrills and Nintendo’s door and getting the rights to port Cruis’n Blast to Switch like you did Outrun 2, Sega Rally 3, and whatnot on other consoles, hmm? 😛
+ Gorgeous. A fantastic early showcase of Unreal Engine 4 for the Switch.
+ A soundtrack by David Wise, it’s great by default.
+ It’s tricky and challenging in a good way to grab all of the collectables.
+ An extremely original concept and control scheme. That is something worth experiencing on its own.
+ Noodle has auto-expressions when you press the four directional buttons. That’s cool!
– The difficulty of collecting everything can get stressful at times, especially since you don’t keep stuff until hitting a checkpoint (which you can at any checkpoint over and over again as needed).
– Noodle is slow, even when slithering, so patience is needed.
– Some odd visual glitches I’ve noticed, including one where the screen will go green for a frame. Some vids show this. Not a deal-breaker, but I hope these will be patched. Sumo did say one was underway early next year, complete with a new icon (ya hear that Neiteio?! XD).