Got some time on your hands at the moment and don’t know what to do? One of the best games of all time for this purpose has to be Snake, made even more famous on Nokia mobile phones back in the 90s. Well, Stovetop Studios and Digerati have taken that formula and offer a more modern approach: Snakeybus.
So many of us have a bit of downtime at the moment. Some are taking up a new language, re-evaluating their lives and learning from this experience as a life-changing opportunity, some will continue to play on the one-handed bandit, while others continue to kill time playing a game. Well, back in the day, there wasn’t the option to scroll through social media to pass the time; instead, you either pretended to be texting someone or played Snake.
The idea of Snake is to control, you guessed it – a snake – and eat everything in sight. The more you eat, the further your body expands and makes it a challenge to slither around the screen real estate. Crash into your body, and it’s game over, but the general gist is to get the highest score. It’s crude by today’s standards, but the gameplay has outlived Nokia’s success, and a variation of it reaches modern consoles (and PC).
Snakeybus takes that concept but switches the snake for one of those bendy buses popular in Europe. Instead of collecting pixelated food, you pick up passengers, transport them back to a drop-off point, all while your bus increases in length. Surprisingly, this transition works pretty well, but the game is chaotic because of it, and there are a handful of butt-clenching workouts as you try to beat everyone else’s score.
There are two incentives for the game: earn points to unlock new features, and points to climb the online leaderboard. Snakeybus is a solo affair, but the competitiveness of your fellow gamers online makes this one of those rare titles where you keep pushing to make a dent on the scoreboard. Points are awarded for the time you stay in the game and how many carriages you add to your already lengthy bus.
Starting with the conventional passenger bus, you can unlock the traditional American style yellow bus, London double-deckers and a Chinese dragon type vehicle, among others. The vehicles in Snakeybus don’t have any special features and are just for show, but it’s an excuse to unlock them all there aren’t that many on offer in Snakeybus, and it doesn’t hurt to have a selection to choose from. You don’t purchase these as such, but accumulate the required score and your new wheels will automatically unlock. The same applies to the locations, and it’s important to note that different maps have a significant impact on the game – some are easier to navigate, others are more enjoyable.
While it’s advantageous to learn the routes like any bus driver would, you can wing it if you like. The maps in Snakeybus aren’t unusually large, but it’s worth getting used to one area in particular and keep practising. Once the bus extends, you’ll need to take regular detours to avoid crashing into yourself. You won’t incur any damage, but if you’re stationary for a few seconds, it’s game over and the end of your run.
The first couple of levels weren’t my thing as the first was like a Micro Machines layout where you race around in a reception room, avoiding household obstacles while navigating up, and around multiple bends suspended in the air like the ultimate Scalextric. Snakeybus is a fast game, so it often feels erratic, and it’s easy to lose focus and head into a dead-end.
After some grinding on the same levels, you can unlock new vehicles and levels. As mentioned, vehicles are cosmetic and add no value to the game other than looking good, but the new maps are a little more unforgiving, or open enough to be able to plan a route of attack on the fly. The same can’t be said for one of the early levels that features a bottomless pit that is so easy to fall into.
Forget The Fare, What’s The Score?
At the start of each level, you have a low capacity for carrying passengers. Each time you collect, say, 100 people, you have to return to a drop-off point to release them, though you can drop them off at any stage. This resets the capacity to zero and not only will you find that you can carry more people, but the bus grows in length – the objective of the game.
Typical plays only last a few minutes. Ideally, the longer you play, the more likely you will get a higher score, but that’s not always the case as you still need to pick up passengers and drop them off. With some of the larger lengthed buses in Snakeybus, they block off your path, meaning you have to drive around aimlessly until the bus starts to retract.
When you fail a challenge, you’ll get a score summary of how well you did and the opportunity to submit the score online. With a score of 37 in terms of bus length, I was pretty impressed with my performance, that is until I saw the leaderboard. Scores well over 260 completely changed my perspective of how I was performing. After perseverance, I was able to leapfrog to the top of the leaderboard on one level. The old saying goes ‘quit while you’re ahead’ and that’s what I did – straight onto the next map as I couldn’t bear witness to being knocked from my temporary throne.
Is It Cool To Use Public Transport?
That’s the game; very much in the mould of the original Snake, only with much much better graphics, controls and soundtrack. There aren’t that many options in Snakeybus as it’s a driving game (though endless mode is pretty fun): steer left and right, accelerate, brake and use the handbrake for a few hairpins. Because the length of the bus can get excessive, it would be impossible to avoid crashing, so you have the option of jumping, defying all forms of gravity. It’s a limited option as you have to wait for the gauge to refill so you don’t abuse this trick, but I have to say, it was pretty cool to see this fountain of bus carriages hanging in the air in a bizarre pseudo art arc.
Switching from third-person to the first-person view was a habit of mine. The latter offered more control and felt faster, but there were so many dead-end encounters with no way of turning around or jumping to safety. This often proved frustrating as you can do a few good runs which are abruptly ended through poor foresight (or the view – third-person gives you an advantage of the dangers ahead). In the early city level in particular, there were numerous dead ends which seem to be the work of sadistic developers. Shame on you.
Overall, Snakeybus is a fun game to kill time to. There aren’t that many vehicles or maps to unlock, but getting a decent enough score online is incentive enough, even if it’s for your own satisfaction to be better at the game than strangers. It’s a decent reimagining of a classic and has a little Crazy Taxi feel to it too, but the lack of modes and relatively short playing time per map means this is more of an arcade game for on-the-go than a game you’re likely to binge night after night. That’s not a bad thing, but the focus on Snakeybus is more of a pick-up-and-play vibe. In some respects, that’s not too distant to the game this is based on.
Thank you to Digerati for the review code, you’re the bestest.