Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Dungeon Crawl RPG
 
Rating: M
 
Release Date: 14/04/2020
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
2/5


 

Positives


- Interesting Snack Designs
- Quirky art style

Negatives


- Heaps of grinding
- Uninteresting combat
- Shallow and one-dimensional characters
- Too many puns


Posted February 14, 2020 by

 
Full Article
 
 

I’ve long held a love for niche and obscure Japanese RPGs. In fact, I originally imported a US Nintendo 3DS at launch for the sole purpose of avoiding the sorts of delays we had previously been subjected to with Atlus games. So, when an RPG never makes it to our shores, I feel a certain sadness. Having thoroughly enjoyed Level-5 games like Ni no Kuni and Inazuma Eleven, it was always a little galling that The Snack World: Trejarars never left Japan; although it wasn’t too surprising given the 3DS had already begun its sales downturn by that point. A year later the game was ported to the Nintendo Switch in the form of Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold, and almost another two years later that same port has finally made its way West. But, was the three year wait really worth it in the end?

Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold throws you into the shoes of an amnesiac silent protagonist who awakens in an inn with nary a clue of what’s going on. It’s hardly an awe inspiring or original set up, but it also allows for the early story beats and tutorials to make sense thematically while slowly rolling out the game’s mechanics and themes. The story never swerves into interesting or intriguing themes, instead largely seeming content with playing on tropes and puns while providing thinly veiled reasons to travel to different dungeons around the world. While the story begins to pick up somewhat towards the end, any attempts at the more dramatic – and I use that term loosely here – moments are spoiled by the writing/localisation teams incredible overuse of puns. I absolutely love a good double entendre, but when there’s one in every fourth sentence, they just become distracting and detract from the story. A lacklustre and entirely shallow, one dimensional cast made of characters whose personalities entirely revolve around concepts like ‘loving the princess’ and ‘loving his muscles’ certainly don’t help matters.

While the story and characters certainly make up a large portion of any game, the real focus in Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold is its dungeon crawling. And, its focus on random chance rewards and massive amounts of grinding. In Snack World you’ll spend a massive amount of your time in story and side missions, each of which takes place in a small level or a larger dungeon. Aside from murdering the games titular Snacks (monsters and characters with an inherent food twist) and gaining experience, your other reward from completing missions is the chance at certain items. There are very few guaranteed rewards in Snack World. Instead, you’re expected to grind missions over and over, hoping that the end of mission treasure chests (or sometimes in-mission treasure chests) will hold the grand prize Jara (weapon or accessory) you’re hoping for.

The grind gets worse again once you realise that the games weapon Jaras require duplicates to upgrade them, while gear like Armour requires special items that are once again random chance rewards. With no indications of the chances of success – although your ‘luck’ can be increased by wearing gear that meets the daily fashion – and the heavy reliance on obtaining these grand prizes, Snack World sometimes feels like a mobile gacha game. Just without the ability to spend real money. Outside of the random chance rewards, sudden jumps in the required level for your next story mission also necessitate grinding, although I often found I could get my way through missions a level or two below the recommendation without too much issue.

While grinding can be frustrating, it can be lessened when the game itself and the systems it features are engaging. Unfortunately, Snack World falls short in that regard as well. The game’s action combat is far from engaging, with the game’s repeated button spammed attacks and occasional special attacks quickly feeling samey and boring. Using different weapon Jaras helps alleviate this, but very few of them feel satisfying to use. This is further hindered by the game’s semi-auto weapon change system. As you approach an enemy, a pop up will appear telling you press ZR on your controller/Switch. Doing so will automatically change your weapon to one best suited to exploiting that enemy’s weakness. It’s a great system in theory, but the game isn’t always great at surfacing which enemy Snack is targeted (a small compass around your character simply points in the direction of the targeted enemy Snack), and manually changing Jaras requires multiple button presses while combat continues around you. In a world where so many other games have solved issues just like this, its utterly mystifying that the game doesn’t include a manual quick swap via single button presses.

Still, despite so many facets of Snack World pulling me out of the zone of enthusiasm, I still found myself drawn into the game. That is largely thanks to the game’s utterly charming Snack designs. The Snacks in the game are all detailed, interesting to look at, and feature a quirky design philosophy that’s simply fun to take in. I loved trawling through dungeons, beating the daylights out of Snacks until I finally hit the point where one wanted to join my party. Although the one or two voice lines they would spout as they died (often tens of times in a single dungeon given the number of enemies), certainly got old quickly. A quick mini-game later, and the Snack would be ready to add to my dungeoneering team next mission. It scratches that same itch that games like Pokemon and Yokai Watch, although maybe a little less successfully.

Overall, it’s hard to say that Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold was worth the three year wait. It has the bones of a game that could have been good, but there are just too many frustrations inherent in its overall design that seriously hamper it. Catching Snacks can only cover for so many hours of lacklustre combat in repeated missions and dungeons. If you’re desperate for a new dungeon crawling RPG, Snack World could potentially scratch that itch, but you’re better off looking elsewhere.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.