February 19th, 2012 | By Gerrard Winter
Ahhhhh, physics and sweet jumps, patron saints of addictive indie games the world over. If you’ve ever played Trial Bike, Joe Danger or any of their countless brethren (statistically, you must have, right?), then you’ve heard all this before. Utilise your mastery of the acceleration button and tilt mechanics in order to fumble your way across a devious 2D assault course in the quickest time possible, preferably without landing your vehicle arse over elbow. However, the snuggly part of Snuggle Truck comes from the need to account for your truck’s precious cargo: a collection of cute cuddly animal toys. Let your ride get a little off balance or land too hard after using the aforementioned sweet jumps and the poor critters get sent flying, resulting in a game over if such an incident leaves your trunk empty.
“Wait a sec, dude,” I hear my literary caricature of you saying to yourself. “Truckin’ a haul of adorable toys is a really frickin’ weird concept to base a game around.” Yes, caricature, it’s totally weird! But it’s like that for a good reason. You see, Snuggle Truck is in fact the artist formally known as “Smuggle” Truck. Those fuzzy wuzzy little animals? Those were meant to be Mexican immigrants that you were smuggling over the border. The whole game was supposed to be a satirical lampoon of the US immigration system, which was about as well received as you might expect. Apple and Valve didn’t really see the funny side either, resulting in the more family friendly tonal shift we see now (although, peculiarly, the truck still looks awful shady).
While the rather gutsy political aspect is completely MIA now, the gameplay is thankfully more than capable of supporting the title by its own merits alone. It’s not going win any awards for originality, you understand, but what it offers is simple fun and plenty of it. Each one of the 40+ courses provides five different performance medals for you to collect, which gives you plenty of reason to keep coming back to the same stages several times. Although some of them do get pretty hard later on, so you’ll often find yourself restarting after even the slightest slip-up if you want to get the best score. That might sound a little frustrating, but each stage is so mercifully short that you never feel like your losing much progress every time you hit reset. Mastered all the included tracks? No problem. As of writing, there’s good 10k or so community created levels, each with their own set of five challenges. Mastered all those too? Get help. Or you could start making your own tracks using the level creator’s intuitive drag ‘n drop interface! Then get help.
The game’s only real stumbling block is its lack of variety. With only two power-ups and and three near identical environments, you’ll have seen pretty much everything this game has to offer within your first couple of minutes with it. While some of the crazier user created levels can provide a bit of extra spice, for the most part they’re all just slight variations on the same themes anyway. But for only £4, what more can you ask for? It might be a rather simplistic title, but it’s a neat little package with enough content to last a good few hours at least. So, if you already dig these kinds of physics racers, then Snuggle Truck will be a decent time sink for you; that’s good value for money if ever I saw it.
You can purchase Owlchemy Lab’s Snuggle Truck for £4 from Steam, or get it for free on the iPad/Phone App Store. However, if you’re after the original uncensored “Smuggle” Truck version, then you need to head on over to Owlchemy Lab’s official site.