Review: Snood 3.0
Developer: David Dobson
Requirements: Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X
Trial: Feature-limited (levels, graphics, difficulty, etc.)
Bearing in mind that I am of the age where sending Virtual Crack to people is still funny, allow me to introduce the game known as Snood with this quote from a friend:
“Snood: Healthier than Crack.”
Let’s ignore for the moment that Snood’s state of physical well-being is irrelevant here. While I am told that playing Snood is indeed nearly as addictive as crack cocaine, Snood doesn’t require that the user be involved with law enforcement, shady drug dealers, or bad neighborhoods full of Snood houses.
Those of you who remember 1980s pop culture will probably recall such arcade games as Puzzle Bobble, which seems to be one of the primary inspirations for Snood. You control a “Snood cannon” that shoots colorful face-like icons called “Snoods” at a giant arrangement of more Snoods. When two or more Snoods of the same color on the game board are hit by another identical Snood fired from the cannon, all three (or more) Snoods vanish. If, by making Snoods vanish, other Snoods are no longer connected to the top of the board, the disconnected Snoods will fall off and disappear. Once the board is cleared, the game is won.
There’s a catch, of course: when each Snood is fired, a “DANGER!” indicator increments, and when the indicator is full, the top of the game board drops down by one row, decreasing the working room you have to fire Snoods. The only way to lower the danger level is to drop Snoods off the board; the more you drop, the more will be taken off the indicator. If the field of play drops far enough to allow any Snoods to descend below its lower edge, the game is lost.
Snood offers a multitude of options for game play. Beginners are advised to start out on the Child level, which offers a “gunsight” of sorts by default and lets the player get a feel for how shots will work out. This sight is particularly useful for practicing bank shots—Snoods fired at the walls will bounce off until they contact the Snoods in the play area. Four levels of increasing difficulty are available after Child; in order, they are Easy, Medium, Hard, and Evil. The difficulty is increased by varying the size of the Snoods, the size of the game board (and thus the total number of Snoods to clear), and the inclusion of skull Snoods. Skull Snoods must be dropped from the field of play, as no skull Snoods are ever loaded into the Snood cannon.
Beyond the basic five difficulty levels, there is a Custom level, which allows the player to set the game board size, the initial number of rows of Snoods, the danger level increments, and the presence/number of skull Snoods. There is a Puzzle level, whose default puzzle contains 50 different levels of artistic or geometric arrangements of Snoods on various-sized game boards that must be cleared. Custom puzzles can also be created and edited with SnoodEdit, a separate (and Windows-only, unfortunately) application. Finally, the Journey level allows the player to start on Child and work his way up until he loses a game. High scores on all levels can be verified by the application and submitted to the Snood Web site to record your achievements for posterity, or simply for bragging rights.
The application appears perfectly stable on Panther, and a beta version was used several months ago on earlier versions of OS X without problems. Stability under versions of Mac OS prior to X was not tested, though previous Snood versions (1.x and 2.x) presented no problems whatsoever.
Version 3.0 introduced some new features, most notably graphics sets and the various “magic Snoods.” Previous Snood versions for the Classic Mac OS could have new Snood graphics inserted via ResEdit, but the new method is far easier and more expandable. The classic Snood icons can be replaced with any of 13 included sets of Snoods, or you can create your own by following the included instructions. (If you really want a challenge, play the Evil level with the Monet Snoods. It’s guaranteed to drive you absolutely batty.)
The three magic Snoods include a wild-card Snood; row-builders (five identical Snoods expand horizontally from the impact point of this Snood); and “Stone Snoods,” which have three small “satellite” Snoods that destroy everything within a one-Snood radius, including Skull Snoods. However, the animation associated with them is very drawn-out, and this negatively impacts game play. While I am a “fast Snooder,” some players prefer a slow, methodical approach, and the slowdown as a result of the Stone Snoods will likely not bother such players.
This leads nicely into perhaps the biggest fault of the application: while the game’s graphics are extremely simplistic, the animation and redraw speed slows noticeably when tasks such as checking e-mail start happening in the background. This is only a minor annoyance, however, as it does little to reduce the addictive qualities of the game.