I'm Not Sure I Like Snack World But I Keep Playing Anyway

Illustration for article titled I'm Not Sure I Like Snack World But I Keep Playing Anyway

I do not enjoy questing in Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl Gold. It’s boring and repetitive, killing the same creatures on the same maps for underwhelming rewards. And yet I’ve been playing for eight hours and can’t seem to put down my Joy-Cons. What’s keeping me playing? Is it the puns and poop jokes? It’s probably the puns and poop jokes.

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Released today for the Switch in North America, Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl Gold is the port of a 2018 Japanese Switch game that is an enhanced port of a 2017 Japanese 3DS game. The Snack World is the latest multimedia property created by developer Level-5, in the same vein as the popular Yo-Kai Watch series. In Japan, Snack World is a video game, a manga series, a CG-animated anime program, and a toy line.

In North America, Snack World is just this game, released last Friday for the Switch. I am not familiar with the characters, almost all of which are named after some sort of sauce, snack, or other foodstuffs. From what I can gather, Snack World revolves around the adventures of spiky-haired, bandana-wearing protagonist Chup, questing with his friends in a world that’s a generic fantasy RPG setting mixed with modern conveniences like cell phones.

Illustration for article titled I'm Not Sure I Like Snack World But I Keep Playing Anyway

While I am unfamiliar with the characters (there is an in-game database with bios that helps), I am charmed by Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl. It opens with a catchy theme song with lyrics about staying up all night eating pork chops. This seems like a good reason to stay up all night. The game world is bright and cartoonish, though sometimes blurry textures betray the game as the upscaled 3DS RPG it is. The frolicsome music, the egregious puns at every turn, the odd-looking yet endearing characters—there’s Level-5-style whimsy at every turn. Even the menus are fun.

Illustration for article titled I'm Not Sure I Like Snack World But I Keep Playing Anyway

What’s not fun is Snack World’s core gameplay loop. Players create a character and are immediately thrust into the questing grind. The obnoxious and spoiled Princess Melonia needs some sort of trendy gem, so doting King Papaya sends the player off into the wilds to fetch it for her. The player wanders the countryside or explores randomized dungeons, avoiding traps and gathering treasure while smacking down hordes of punnily named critters like the Dieclops, an animated six-sided die.

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Illustration for article titled I'm Not Sure I Like Snack World But I Keep Playing Anyway

I enjoy hitting these creatures. I like cycling through the various weapons my character can bring into the dungeons, like cartoon hammers, bows, magical staves, and swords and shields. I am compelled by the game’s “snack” mechanic, which lets me capture monsters after I’ve beaten a certain number and add them to my party to fight by my side.

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What I hate is finishing quests. All of that effort, racing through the same random dungeons over and over again, is rewarded not with spectacular gear, but ingredients to craft spectacular gear. Big story quests will drop the odd piece of gear but for the most part, it’s treasure chests full of cotton and materials I can use to upgrade or create items and equipment.

Illustration for article titled I'm Not Sure I Like Snack World But I Keep Playing Anyway
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I do not enjoy this cycle. I do not feel fulfilled at the end of each adventure. I’m dropped back into the game’s main village square once a dungeon is done, with the expectation that I’ll pick another quest and get right back to it. It feels like I am doing chores, shades of another Level-5 game, 3DS chore simulator Fantasy Life.

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Why do I keep playing? Part of it is the mindless grind. Hopping online with two or three random players and burning through quests is not the worst way to spend an afternoon. Sure, we’re collecting crafting materials, but we’re doing it together, and that makes all the difference.

I think most of the reason I keep playing, however, is the game’s sick sense of humor. The puns are bad. Sexual innuendo runs rampant. You want scatological humor? Here’s an entire quest based around procuring skin cream from a creature known as The Krapen. Guess what the skin cream is. Go on, guess.

It’s poop. Poop they bring back to the princess, who runs off to rub it all over her body. Snack World, ladies and gentlemen. An instant classic.

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Kotaku elder, lover of video games, keyboards, toys, snacks, and other unsavory things.

DISCUSSION

zanmania
zanmania

I find the game pretty infectious. Combat was a bit weird for me at first, but then once I realized that I was using generally the same approach to enemies in this game that I do in Bloodborne (just from a different camera angle), things really fell into place. But the thing I really enjoy are the boss fights. Dungeon crawling is fun for a while (even though I sometimes get lost and go in circles, which can be irksome), but I think the gameplay works best when you have a big open area, the camera over your shoulder, with one big target to focus on. The downside is on any given boss quest (so far, at least), you first have to go through the dungeon, and since they are randomized, it’s not like you can rush straight there. I’d love to just grind out bosses. I’d totally do that for hours.

Another pro is that while the game is simple and accessible, it’s not always a total breeze. It’s not hard by any stretch, but I’d classify it as “perfectly leisurely.” Many times I’ve found myself in a tight spot, but the game always made sure I had the tools to get out of those spots as long as I rubbed a couple brain cells together and used those tools to my advantage. And even when I do die, it’s not like I lose anything; I still keep all the stuff I collected during the run. So yeah, perfectly leisurely. I also love the fashion element and am a sucker for fabricating all sorts of outfits.

I do have a few gripes. Because all item drops are random, sometimes the grind feels a little aimless. Granted, this is offset by the fact that there is so much stuff to upgrade and collect, that even if I don’t get exactly what I’m going for, odds are I can at least use the resources for something, which is nice. But even that consolation leads me to my second gripe, which is that there is so much shit to upgrade and collect. Usually this is a good thing, but it’s to the point where the grind almost feels like a formality at times. And there are so many different systems and bonuses in the game - different perks on the same weapons, bonuses for color coordinated weapons on certain color monsters, snacks to familiarize, pocket snacks to use during combat, points to put into a skill tree, raffle tickets, exp boosts, fashion bonuses, bonuses for using certain weapons against certain enemies, cards to cash in for items...and that’s just off the top of my head. I’ve got an inventory full of shit that, at best, I’m not sure how to use properly, or at worst, flat out have no idea what to do with. There’s so many details that I can’t help but feel like I’m completely missing out on a huge portion of the game. I’m not even sure how to build or character or if I even need to or how I’d start. I’ve been just playing and upgrading and playing and upgrading with blind faith in the games auto-systems. That’s been working fine so far - I’ve never once been in a situation where I’m out of my depth - but I do think the game would benefit from a more focused experience.