This holiday, 2006, was a great time for gaming. Hopefully everyone got all the games and systems they wanted and are all now eagerly anticipating the new years releases.
There was a little gem of a web-game released by Nintendo and developer Extra Toxic during Dec. that was sadly missed by a lot of people. For those who missed it, or those who just want a little entertaining read, I have for you a full-review of this web-game, called “Mission In Snowdriftland”. I had a blast playing it and it had a bunch of cool unlockables for Nintendo fans, from mp3 files to wallpaper and desktop icons.
I played the game on my own and so thought I might as well write a review for it since I actually completed the game 100% and thoroughly enjoyed it, even though web-games aren’t something I’m generally into. So enjoy my review of the game and let’s hope that it got positive enough feedback for Nintendo to consider doing a sequel next year, and much more new web-games to come!
Web games are an intriguing and interesting form of video game entertainment when you really stop to think about it. They can be incredibly simple and basic and yet they can also be deceptively deep beneath the seemingly basic surface. The most interesting aspect of this type of game to me though is the fact that they can literally be developed by anyone who is willing to take the time to learn how to use Flash or what-have-you. The best ones offer you a lot of fun quickly (without having to learn too much about how it’s going to work) and yet are fun enough to bring the user back again and again and long enough to keep them pre-occupied for a few days or hours of time . . . .
Oddly enough, this type of game is actually new to me. You see, for some strange reason, I have never been one to play a web-game. I don’t know what it is, but they have never seemed to be able to capture my attention for longer than a few minutes. I really don’t know why, because as was proven to me by Mission in Snowdriftland, an online game published by Nintendo and developed by a company called Extra Toxic, these games can be just as deep as any other classic games of yesteryear and they can provide you with plenty of entertainment value. And if you are online already doing whatever it is you do, then why not?
I may have finally came across the title that will break me into investigating more online web-games. I know we have a whole lot available here at VGB that Supa has enjoyed pointing out for interested players. I think it’s about time I give that long list a looks-see.
Mission in Snowdriftland, which you can play here (Note: SADLY the game has finally been taken down. If you missed out maybe you can contact Extra Toxic and let them know that you’d love it if they made the game available again since you missed out the first time) was a kind of winter holiday/Christmas thanks from Nintendo of Europe that was developed by Extra Tonic. The game took the form of an Advent Calender where the door to a new level was opened each day, from the beginning of the month leading up to Christmas Day on the 25th.
One of the coolest aspects of the game is that each level corresponds to a Nintendo DS or Wii game (generally, though you’ll also find the Wii hardware itself, the pink DS Lite and other accessories like the DS Browser) and when you complete the level you’ll unlock extra content that is kept inside the laboratory on the bottom left of the screen (at the beginning of the world map). Depending on the game, you will unlock Wallpaper, icons, “ringtones” (basically a song from the game), a video of gameplay, screenshots and finally, some basic info on the title.
Mission In Snowdriftland is a platformer through and through. And it’s a pretty basic one at that. You will not find any power-ups here (sadly) and the basic goal of the game is simply to reach the treasure chest at the end of the stage. Like any good game though, the game throws new enemies and obstacles at you the further you get in the game, as you go from themed world to themed world, starting with snow levels complete with igloos, to forest levels that introduce climbable spider-webs (complete with a spider who will chase after you) to ice levels with tilting platforms to the final cavern stages, complete with lava that kills you in one hit if touched (naturally).
The storyline of the game sees a rebel game character named El Pix stealing important Nintendo game files. Our hero, Chubby Snow, is just sitting in the lobby when he is chosen for the job. So off the little Snowman goes to “Snowdriftland”, the game world where El Pix has chosen to hide out. As with most Nintendo games, the storyline is anything but deep. The cut-scenes are quite cute and funny though so we don’t mind.
The world map displays all of the stages (which are all open since Christmas is over, meaning that you can play the levels in any order you wish) as well as the laboratory. Clicking on a stage takes you to that level, while clicking on the laboratory will take you inside.
Inside you will find a list on the left of all the games whose files you have retrieved (which will grow as you beat more levels and retrieve the missing files from the chest at the end). You’ll be updated on how many games you have retrieved out of the 24, and clicking on a game will show you all the items you have unlocked for it. Just click on the various spots in the lab to view screenshots, videos and basic info, or to download wallpaper, icons or ringtones for that particular game, unless it’s greyed out/unlit, which means it’s not available for that title.
I had a lot of fun with Snowdriftland, as stated above this is the first web-game to truly capture my attention and it’s definitely the first web-game I’ve ever finished. I can’t really compare it to other web-games as I haven’t played many others, but this one is definitely gotta be one of the best. If you enjoy platformers there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy this game.
The unlockable content is of course what will spure you most to complete the game. It’s always great to be rewarded for your troubles. To make the game more difficult and give you something harder to shoot for, each stage has 24 Snowflakes strewn about. Collect all of them and the door to that stage will light up on the map with a blue snowflake icon. That means you have completed that level 100% (naturally), if you can manage to do this for everystage then you will unlock some bonus content that is very much worth getting if you enjoy the game. If anything it’ll give you something to remember if they ever do indeed take the game down. (at which point I will cry! “NOOOO CHUBBY SNOW, DON’T GO!!!!!!!!!!!” *sniff*)
Mission in Snowdriftland can actually be quite difficult, although I’d never say it was more difficult than your standard Mario game or Yoshi platformer or what have you. For me the challenge kept me going, with my shorterm goal being just to get through a level (which is usually pretty easy) and longterm being to finish each stage 100% by collecting all of the Snowflakes (no easy task, especially one particular forest level that took me around 45 minutes or so! That level is huge and the Snowflakes are hidden in such a way that you actually have to go out of your way to find them all). Each world even has a hidden Heart Container that once collected will increase your maximum energy bar (crucial if you are to finish the game . . . unless you have some mad keyboard platforming skillz).
At first the game can seem too monotenous especially if you start out in the first world and go level by level, but while Chubby Snow never gets any sort of power-ups or moves (which would’ve been cool to see. Throwing snowballs would’ve been a no-brainer in my opinion) the designers did a very good job of changing things up just as they were about to become tiresome, introducing new enemies, new platforms and generally making the levels a little bit more complex or difficult.
Like most platform games real skill comes from getting the timing of jumps correct and knowing how hard or soft to press that jump button. The levels overall though are very nicely designed and this game wouldn’t be out of place if it came from Nintendo themselves. In fact, many parts of the game reminded me of something like Donkey Kong Country 2, and that’s definitely saying something. Although I have to say that I think this game works best as a web-game, and I think it’d be made much to easy if you were able to control it with a gamepad, as the arrow keys and lag are part of what make the game as hard as it is . . . that might sound like a pretty hard knock against the game but it’s not, as I find that here, it actually compliments it. Unless you are easily frustrated.
The graphics and animation in the game are pretty exceptional, almost up to Game Boy Advance standards without all the effects (no mode-7 or scrolling type stuff here). But what’s really pretty good is the music. All of it is original and it’s all done pretty well. The tunes are nice and don’t grate on the nerves, and the third world especially has some pretty cool tunes (even though each level is mainly a slight variation on the same tune).
In the end, Mission In Snowdriftland is a great little platformer that will provide you with a few hours of quality platforming fun and quite a few nifty little unlockables. My only real complaint comes from the fact that I wish the wallpaper was better, many of them, especially the system ones, are Nintendo life-style shots featuring models and I just can’t understand who’d want to put that on their background . . . But the songs and icons make up for it.
So if you want to see a web-game done right, and get some nice little nuggets of info on DS and Wii games while you’re at it, then don’t pass this game up.
And Chubby Snow is a really cool character IMO, I hope Nintendo doesn’t kill him off so fast! I definitely can invision a Mission in Snowdriftland 2, complete with power-ups! Maybe for next year?