Reviewed on PC
Every 90's kid had a Nokia 3310. That's almost past the point of hyperbole and into statistical fact territory. If you somehow didn't have one, you at least knew someone that did. Apart from their immortal durability, and maybe their 8-bit ringtones, the 3310 was best-known for the arcade classic that came pre-installed: Snake.
Snakeybus takes that arcade fun and packs it into an ever-growing public transport vehicle. Across a wide array of vastly different locales, you'll drive your bus around collecting passengers at regularly placed bus stops. You can only collect a limited number before you reach capacity, though, forcing you to travel to constantly moving destinations and repeat the cycle. Every time you reach a destination, your bus increases in length, encapsulating the ever-growing mayhem of Snake.
Snakeybus is honest fun and beautiful, varied graphics, combined into an arcade game that's hedonistically addictive. It's admittedly light on features, but the core gameplay loop is enough to keep you hooked for a few hours. Just as the fun starts to wear thin, a new level usually unlocks to keep things interesting.
The unlock system is a bit grindy, however, as you need five runs before every new level can be played. As an average game can last 5-6 minutes, the next level was basically locked behind half an hour of playing the same location, for me, which felt a bit excessive.
I understand the desire to make the player feel rewarding progression, but this felt like it was at odds with the desire to survive for as long as possible. It effectively led to me tanking runs on a couple of occasions so I could get my wheels on a new level quicker. A system where levels are locked behind a time requirement would feel more like an organic reward for your hard work.
The graphics of Snakeybus are definitely the standout feature. Each level has differing art styles and wildly different layouts. You’ll start out in Paris but before you know it you’re on a rotating cylinder in space. You can seamlessly swap between first person view and an over-the-roof view to enjoy the scenery from different perspectives, too. The latter was much easier to control, but a driver's seat view of the locales you're driving in is a nice level of immersion. It also makes the game more challenging, as your field of view is smaller and the speed is more noticeable.
There's one big feature of Snakeybus that we've yet to discuss: the jump functionality, which is frankly a breath of fresh air. Not only does it simplify navigating around your tail of coaches, but it's a savvy way of translating the vintage fun of Snake into three dimensions.
If you loop around to a portion of your tail, jumping over it subverts the need to snake around. By the time you've looped around for the second time, your original tail will likely have vanished, leaving just a neat little tunnel created by your jump to drive harmlessly underneath.
It won't last forever, but Snakeybus is one of those crazy arcade games that is just the right amount of fun. Every now and then you can boot it up when you want some no-nonsense fun, or show it to a friend or family member and laugh together at the mayhem.