Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: Sushi Snake for iPhone and iPad

Sushi Snake by Benjamin Davis is a very original path finding game, featuring complex mechanics, small but challenging puzzles, and retro graphics that make my eyes hurt.
You control a snake, or more precisely a "sushi" snake. Don't ask, it's a long story.

The basic rule is: eat all the pills.
It's not clear from this first image, but as you eat the dots, the snake grows longer. In this case, since there is a pill in every space, the "tail" of the snake will remain where it is, and the body will just get longer. This means that you can pass on every tile only once.

There are also puzzles with empty spaces between the pills. In those cases the tail will follow the body, so you can pass again on the same tile provided that the tail has moved away.
Everyone will say it's like that Snake game which could be played on prehistoric phones (you know, the ones that hadgasp—a keypad) but for me it will always be Nibbler, which was one of the first games I emulated (MAME 0.10 no less, released on 13 March 1997. It's been a while).

But enough digression. Pills and walls can have multiple colors. The snake changes color to the color of the last pill eaten.
And here is the bizarre thing: the snake can actually eat the walls. But only if they are of a different color.
There are also puzzles with multiple snakes, where things get really complicated. All of the snakes move together in the same direction, unless they are blocked. The wicked part is that a snake can eat another snake (provided it's a different color).
The puzzles are usually small but complicated. The movement rules are restrictive, e.g. you cannot change direction while you are eating a wall, which limits your possibilities. In many cases, you can find the solution by logically excluding all other possibilities.

The game contains 48 puzzles split in 4 packs: Singles (1 snake, one pill on every tile), Multiples (multiple snakes, one pill on every tile), Blanks (1 snake, pills not on every tile) and Remix (multiple snakes, pills not on every tile). They are not many, but I think they are enough to make good use of the mechanics without growing repetitive.

The input handling doesn't seem to be perfect. I often moved the snake one step too far. That's not a big problem because there's an undo button to fix any mistake.

I'm not fond of pixel art, so I didn't particularly like the graphics, which I also found a bit confising. Also, there is no animation for the snake movement, it just instantly moves by one step at a time, so it is a bit jarring.
Most importantly, the play area is very small compared to the screen size: I would have liked it to fill more of the screen, especially on iPhone.

As you can see in the Twitter feed, the game is currently on sale, so if you're interested get it now. Follow me if you don't want to miss these notifications.


Summary

Nontrivialness★★★★☆
Logical Reasoning★★★★☆
User Interface★★☆☆☆
Presentation★★☆☆☆
Loading Time★★★★★
Saves Partial Progress
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