By Kimari Rennis
Let’s be honest here, gamers. Food and video games together are a wonderful combination. But what if I told you there was a game out there that combined the two in a cartoony anime RPG? Imagine an anime RPG game about food – as you eat food!
Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold has one of the most ridiculous and catchiest songs I have heard in a while. That includes the lyrics, “Let’s get some pork chops, eat ‘em All Night.” This game is jam-packed with so much stuff that I’d rather have my Switch than pocket snacks on the train.
The game is simple and follows the tried and true traditions of many role-playing games. Weapons are found during quests or bought in stores, and they take the form of keychains known as Jaras. When you power up your Jaras, they become full-fledged lethal weapons and shields that wipe out any foe in your way.
Right off the bat, you are hit with a character customization screen where you will make the boy or girl that you will be playing with the entire game. The coolest thing about the character creation in this game is that there are already preset cute. Wacky-looking body parts and faces are available to choose from. I could create a champion potato-muncher, with the jaw and teeth to match. Although this method of customization takes away from delicately creating the perfect persona as in The Sims, it matches the goofy aesthetic of Snack World, and I was able to create a decent representation of me for my playthrough.
When we start talking about gameplay, Snack World is similar in one respect to Final Fantasy XIV in the sense that the enemies are all waiting in the field and if you get to close they start fighting you with heavily telegraphed attacks. Whether that is good or bad, it makes it very easy to dodge attacks and not take damage (unless your controller is covered in grease from the food you’ve eaten and you can’t depress the button.) On top of that, there are little familiars that you find called Snacks. They provide buffs to your character and are useful little things in their own way. A lot of the little sidekick Snacks that you can have by your side are actually the enemies you manage to tame in the field. One’s called the “Indiana Conda,” a chunky purple snake with quite the snarky attitude. Initially, you would think that if they were called snacks they would be more food-themed, but I guess you can only eat so much.
For an RPG, you would expect a gripping story about how one lone soul becomes an all-powerful adventurer or sets out to defeat the most infamous of evils in the world with other outcasts like you. In Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold, you don’t have that kind of story. You find that your character is passed out in front of a castle and when the guards escort you to the king, he asks if you have any foreign illnesses that caused such a random peon to collapse in front of their humble abode. The King then follows the “rules of an RPG” and gives you the exceedingly dangerous task of fighting “Madusa” when a guard gets turned to stone.
After trekking through the “Gorgonzola Plains,” a name that got a chuckle out of me, we came face to face with Madusa who was true to her name. She was much larger than my character, and despite being a generic depiction of the mythological beast, she was more than intimidating. One stare can turn you as still as stale bread. In the end, it was just like every other fight; dodge the telegraphed attack and spam the attack button.
Without a weapon in hand or proof of any experience under my belt, I am set out on my quest in less than 30 seconds. The punch lines are quick and to the point, just like the missions. Yep, the game’s story is just as spontaneous and upbeat as the name and the cheery music blaring behind it.
After a few hours of constantly running into a group of obnoxious, eccentric teenagers, something familiar clicked and it took a quick good search to realize that this game is actually inspired by an anime made years ago! I don’t watch a lot of anime but this show is something I’d spend hours watching and would get me more than hooked on the game itself.
When it comes to food, I think the way to categorize the characters would be between what is fresh and what’s stale. What’s fresh is that the creators are able to implement fourth-wall-breaking humor in a way that is actually funny and doesn’t leave a foul taste in your mouth. The goofy animations, the cheesy one-liners, the fact that the characters joke about player immersion and smartphone addictions – all these genuinely make me smile and giggle. It is very hard for games to pull that off without having players roll their eyes or have second-hand embarrassment.
What’s stale about Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold is its repetitive nature. Yes, a lot of RPGs follow the format of accepting a quest and going to complete that quest while pursuing your own goals. But the thing about those games is that the quests vary based on what they do. Think of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, for example. During one quest, you can go and find an artifact in a dungeon. And in the next, you can follow a talking dog that talks about their master being a god amongst men (which you have no choice to believe). You can get sidetracked and do your own thing in your own rabbit hole. But in Snack World, the game is too uniform. The king tells you to get something for his daughter. You go in the field to fight monsters, occasionally fight a boss and return with the thing that the daughter wants. Obviously, in any RPG you can “farm” and make yourself stronger, but there’s no meaning behind this other than becoming stronger for the next “fetch-me-this” quest.
Aside from feeling forced to make food puns of my own to round out the narrative, I do enjoy playing Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold. It’s made me laugh, certainly at the beginning. The silly cartoony nature of the game is very fitting to the aesthetic, and it’s a portable adventure on the Nintendo Switch, always a plus. While Snack World isn’t bad, it isn’t the best either. It has a humorous and whimsical charm that can attract people to the game, but for me, it wasn’t for long. Playing similar missions and hearing the same kind of jokes for hours on end was like eating the same food back to back for a week. I got tired of it. While I got tired of Snack World, I could never hate it because it still brings out the kid in me. That’s really important, especially in these trying times.
Kimari Rennis is a New York Videogame Critics Circle senior intern from the DreamYard Preparatory School in the Bronx.