Published on July 16th, 2012 | by Nichomaxwell0
A Review of Snoopy Concert: The Game That Took Me Longer to Beat than Ninja Gaiden…HOW???
Year: 1995 // System: Super Famicom // Publishers: Mitsu Fudosan Co., Ltd. & Dentsu, Inc. // Developers: Pax Softnica, Nintendo R&D1 // Genre: Action
>>> Those dang sliding puzzles! Even in children’s games, they are my weakness! The lack of hints in Snoopy Concert pressed me to seek out youtube guides on how to deal with sliding puzzles in general! Thanks for pointing out a deficit in my childhood, Dentsu! Of course, how could they’ve known I never worked with those kinds of puzzles as a kid?
Anyway, Snoopy Concert was designated a kid’s game and released exclusively for the Super Famicom in Japan. Okay, that’s kind of weird…this is a game based on an American show…but it was released only in Japan. I’m not seeing the logic here. That, or I had no idea about how big the Peanuts were on the other side of the globe.
What this means for us in the States is that English versions for this game are pretty hard to find, although a big thanks goes out to Aeon Genesis for creating an English translation of the game. Usually I wouldn’t stress the fact that this title was Japanese-only, but there’s one specific chapter in which the dialogue clues you in on your next destination.
Although designed specifically for children, I had to give this game a shot because…well, it’s Snoopy! And trust me, you won’t be the laughing stock of your household if you give this title a shot regardless of the wedding ring on your finger, the beard you stroke on your chin, or the papers stockpiled on your desk that remind you of the bills and taxes you must pay. It may be deemed a “kiddie” game, but it requires just as much coordination and concentration as, say, Super Mario Bros or Castlevania. And we all know that everyone, both old and young, loves Snoopy. Who wouldn’t want to play a game as Snoopy?!
Er, well…one of the first things that you’ll notice about this game is that…you don’t play as Snoopy. I MEAN, not directly. You see, this is the second game I’ve come across that appears much more comfortable with the SNES mouse interface than with the traditional controller. For each chapter you control a cursor that you can use to initiate certain actions. In Rerun’s continuously rolling stage, you are an invisible hand who stops and pushes his stroller while popping balloons that threaten to carry him up, up, and away, AND slamming shut gates that threaten to halt his stroller in a crash and send Rerun flying. For the rest of the chapters your cursor is Snoopy’s buddy Woodstock, that little yellow bird who tweets and attempts to order the big boss “snoop dog” around. Pah!!!
Buuuut in this game…Woodstock does order Snoopy around. In fact, he orders him around a lot! Woodstock tells Snoopy where to go, whether he should walk or run, when he should jump, and whether he should pick up a certain item or activate a device. Wow, Woodstock must think he’s got some beak on him…
(psst, it’s funny because he doesn’t have a beak…)
Each chapter is cleverly designed around a specific playing style. For example, in Linus’s stage, Snoopy has to brave Super Mario Bros-like levels (in terms of timing jumps and avoiding rivers) in order to find a flower that he presents to Linus’s date before a timer in the form of a balloon, shark, or guy reaches the girl first. By the way, NES-style graphics and 8-bit music here was an extremely nice touch. This game used retro music and stages before retro music and stages were cool…
In Schroder’s stages, Woodstock leads Snoopy through a tricky set of levels where Snoopy must reach the exit by finding certain items and completing special scenarios. For example, in one stage, Snoopy has to activate a punching flower which he uses to train in order to take on a line of dangerous flowers with angry faces…and fists…
In Charlie Brown’s stages, “Detective” Snoopy and his flying pal must work together to track down a series of clues across an open world in order to find all of Charlie Brown’s baseball gear. There are no dangerous obstacles in this section, but rather a lengthy, “where do I go” type of game if you’re not talking to “suspects.” Also, this is the section that you MUST have an English version to play…unless you really like having to watch six Youtube episodes worth of dialogue to figure out what to do in the Japanese game (and if that’s the case, then karlo918 is your guy).So of your four segments, you have: an arcade “shooter” (Rerun), a timed platformer ( Linus), a linear adventure with platforming aspects (Schroeder), and an open-world hidden object type of game (Charlie Brown).
The variety is there, and it’s to be noted that the developers invested a lot of through into each chapter’s design. The longest section is definitely the Charlie Brown chapter, but the one featuring the greatest amount of depth as well as those intimidating sliding puzzles was Schroeder’s section. The hardest one was probably Rerun’s stage, while Linus’s sub-game was the best-executed of the four.
Let’s scan the pluses and minuses of each section, shall we?
CHIC Factor (Rerun)
Challenge: 7/10: This is a pretty hard section to take on mainly because of reaction time. True, you can slow down Rerun enough to ward off all obstacles without much difficulty. But sometimes the controls get in the way and you can’t activate a certain action in time. But more on that in the Handling section. The obstacles in this section were pretty clever and specific for each stretch. On the street, you were watching for both balloons in the sky and gates on the far right. You needed to slow down Rerun, but not so much that he stopped and Snoopy came and carried him away (wait, Snoopy’s the BAD GUY?). In the grocery store, it was all about blowing up the cabbage heads and carrots that this miserable little brat of a girl threw at you from her shopping kart. Wouldn’t here mother pick up on this and slap her silly? Aw, who am I kidding? Adults don’t exist in Peanuts!
Handling: 6/10: Yeah, controls are a little…slow to react…especially with all of the different actions you sometimes need to do at once. They’re laid out well, but the delay can accost you and force you to start over (and by the way, Rerun has only a certain number of lives, so if you use them all up, you go back to the very beginning…only game that does that) if you crash into a gate in spite of your best efforts to prevent the crash.
Innovation: 7/10: It’s kind of interesting how you play this constantly scrolling game with a mouse-like format. I did think that was a bit refreshing, even if it appeared to be harder for kids to grasp than having them control Reurn instead of a cursor. This format employed a strategic edge that rarely appeared in an arcade-style game such as Rerun’s stage.
Core Experience: 7/10: On its own it was a short section, but Snoopy Concert balanced the brevity with its relatively high difficulty and limited continues. Each segment of Rerun’s stage was cute and varied, executing the theming behind Rerun’s character perfectly. It seemed he was always riding something, so to guide him along in a rolling stage was picture-perfect. Your task, however, could become a tad repetitive, as all you had to do what just keep Rerun at a snail’s pace and blow up everything in front of him (except gates….they don’t blow up…)
CHIC Factor (Linus)
Challenge: 8/10: All right, retro stages! So, you direct Snoopy through Woodstock in this game, but you’re racing a timer, and the only item you collect is a flower that you give to Linus’s date (or so he hopes). There are only three levels, but each one hones a specific platforming skill. In the opening stage, Snoopy races another boy who has the hots for Linus’s girl through a series of peaks and valleys. The emphasis on here is timing and conservation. If Snoopy falls, he loses time. This is a horizontally scrolling level on land. The next level sees the “aerial ace” version of Snoopy ascending a mountain to find the flower and give it to the girl at the top. The third level poses the biggest threat to costing Snoopy time as he crosses a series of platforms over a river, which will drown the poor pooch and send him all the way back to the beginning while the shark surges ahead. Yep, only three levels, but given that you’re jumping by giving directions instead of jumping yourself, you have quite the bumpy road ahead of you.
Handling: 8/10: Yeah, you have to be pretty specific in your directions, and you really need to gauge whether running or walking will help you in reaching your destination the fastest. The controls can definitely be frustrating, but somehow the execution is spot-on. Snoopy will always land in a spot that you command him to walk, and if he runs, then he will reach your destined spot and then carry on a set number of “stumble steps.” If you can figure out the duration of his stumble steps, then you can ace the timed jumps.
Innovation: 8/10: This is an homage to the NES side-scrolling platformers…the jumps especially. I like this homage in particular because you must guide a character indirectly across the stages instead of making the jumps yourself. Somehow, some way, these sections were made harder specifically because you guiding someone else indirectly. And I thought kids’ games were supposed to be easier?
Core Experience: 8/10: Some would complain about this game’s length, but given its fair difficulty the and careful design of its three levels, Linus’s subgame stands out as Snoopy Concert’s strongest asset.
CHIC Factor (Schroeder)
Challenge: 7/10: The levels here were sometimes a bit ambiguous as in what to do next, but strong in priming you to explore every nook and cranny for a clue that will help you secure the exit.
Handling: 6/10: The clicker for highlighting actions and items that snoopy needed to pick up could be a little finicky. Some items demanded that you click in a very specific spot to activate an action, and when I tried the first five or six times and didn’t work, I gave up until I realized that I was dead-ended. Otherwise, the mechanics for speeding up Snoopy and leading him to jump were handled decently.
Innovation: 8/10: I liked the search-and-find formula and how it was implemented along with the cursor style of game play. These levels played like a side-scrolling Nancy Drew…more-so, ironically, than the detective-minded Charlie Brown section.
Core Experience: 7/10: There was a lot going on in Schroeder’s section of the game, even without the cut-scenes that took FOREVER!!! Pacing was really bad as the cursor controls meant Snoopy rolled through the sections a bit on the slow side. Also, snail-minded elevators were just terrible. Otherwise, each segment of Schroeder’s game was different from the last, and did a great job in making you think…even if you’re a grown adult. Those sliding puzzles…*shudder*
CHIC Factor (Charlie Brown)
Challenge: 5/10: There really wasn’t much to this game except talking to people and following directions. Just take items back and forth to people and you’ll eventually find all of Charlie Brown’s gear. Kind of feels like you’re running errands instead of solving a great big mystery…
Handling: 6/10: Controls here also take a couple of button presses before you can enter doors or take on bus stops. They’re pretty much the same as they were in Schroeder’s stage…only, not used as frequently…
Innovation: 6/10: Exploration is the name of the game here, but to me, there’s really not a whole lot to a game where you just follow directions and go places to exchange items. Provided, there were a couple of sections where I saw something and thought, “wait, how was I supposed to figure THAT out,” but oftentimes these elements were extreme opposites of being told exactly where to go, missing out on the point of being primed in a specific direction. Basically, I was disappointed that the hidden object approach was diminished here.
Core Experience: 6/10: It’s a nice, long game with tons of helpful dialogue, but ultimately it’s got a repetitive style that keeps you running around in circles. If you like simulation of chores via video game, then that’s great! But I’m pretty sure that video games were to lead you AWAY from running errands. Then again, them kids need to learn, and why not teach them through a game like this?
6.8/Decent: The variety in Snoopy Concert was very impressive for a kid’s game. There were some issues given the controls and lackluster nature of the Charlie Brown search-and-find, but as a child in Japan, you had it made if you possessed a copy of this game. Richard Scarry on the Sega Genesis, eat your heart out! This here is a game for the youth…as well as those who are all die hard about Snoopy.