Japanese games are some of my favorites! Don’t get me wrong, I’ll love the occasional game made in America or Canada. However, a lot of major game companies have become hard to trust as of late. Due to shady business practices, unfinished games, and the inability to treat the customer well, I’ve become disenfranchised with major game publishers and developers. However, Japanese game studios tend to be a lot better on this front.
The games Japan puts out aren’t always winners, but at least there’s more effort put into them. Case and point: Level-5. These are the guys behind awesome games like Yokai Watch, Ni No Kuni, Professor Layton, Fantasy Life, and many others. If you play a lot of Japanese games, then you’ve probably bumped into this developer at least once or twice.
One of their most recent games has finally made its way west after being in “localization hell” for 2 years! This game finally came to North America and slipped under most people’s radars. This obscure gem was released on Valentine’s Day and it’s probably one of my favorite Switch games so far! Without further adieu, let’s talk about “Snack World”!
The game takes place in the titular Snack World, which mixes sci-fi with classic fantasy. In this world, half of the economy seems to be based around selling trading cards of Princess Melonia, a stuck-up and selfish daddy’s girl who has half the kingdom swooning over her. You play as a custom character and wake up in “Tutti Frutti”, a nearby city that just happens to house Melonia and a gaggle of other silly characters.
Working alongside a silver-haired wannabe hero named Chup, you set out on quests to fulfill Melonia’s seemingly pointless requests. While this happens, a maniacal villain looms in the background and you eventually have to rise up and defeat him. It’s typical fantasy stuff, nothing too revolutionary or extreme.
However, there’s one thing that makes the story and its characters excel beyond the kind you’d find in a typical kids game: The writing. This game is stuffed with adult jokes and fourth-wall breaks, which is probably its strongest feature. The writing even carries over into the side-quests, which are some of the most ridiculous quests I’ve ever taken part in.
There’s a quest that involves a romance subplot between two ant monsters, another quest where you beat people up and then hold a concert for a mermaid pop idol, and even one where you discover a forest ranger’s “forbidden passion”. The game is just so over the top in how it delivers its content and I love every second of it!
Honestly, I could just ramble about the writing all day, but I do have to discuss the combat and gameplay. The game is your typical dungeon-crawler, but with a few twists. For one thing, you keep all the items you’ve gathered if you die on a quest. I can’t tell you how much of a god-send this is, because it means that I’ll never lose a really good item if I mess up!
Speaking of items, the game is SWIMMING in loot! There’s tons of weapons to collect, armor/clothing to craft, and accessories to equip. The game doesn’t hand out a lot of these at the start, so you’ll need to grind to get most of them. The game’s constant grinding is both its strongest and weakest element at the same time.
It’s strong because it’s fun to grind, especially due to the randomized dungeons giving a lot of replay value. It’s weak because the game’s RNG seems to be all over the place most of the time and the randomized dungeons tend to get old after a while. Thankfully, the game does things to circumvent the grind a bit. For example, some weapons can boost rare item drop rate. You can also boost your Luck skill to help with drop rates.
The game’s combat is pretty basic, but fun. You have access to a number of weapons called “Jaras”, which you can switch to on the fly. The game lets you auto-equip these Jaras before a mission and lets you switch to them in combat with a single button-press. I can’t tell you how many times this has saved me in a pickle!
From there, you just bop enemies with a weapon they’re weak against until they fall down. The game has an insane variety of enemies and bosses to do battle with, making the combat always feel rewarding. On top of this, various NPCs and monsters can join your side as “Snacks”.
You can bring up to 3 of these Snacks into a battle and they’ll help you in combat. While this is a great feature, it can be somewhat broken at times. Some Snacks are just way too overpowered to the point of breaking the game. For example, you can basically become unbeatable in most scenarios if you have 3 “Spritely Old Men” on your team.
Graphically, the game looks pretty good. It is pretty easy to tell that this game was ported over from the 3DS, but the visual fidelity was increased to fit better with the Switch. While I have never played the original version, I can definitely say that the developers did a good job at giving this game a new coat of paint.
If I had any major problem with this game, it’d be the voice-acting. The voice-acting isn’t the worst, but each character and monster only has a few recorded audio lines each. They’ll repeat these few voice lines several times, to the point where you’ll want to rip off your own ears after a few chapters.
While the repeated voice lines are annoying, they aren’t a deal-breaker. What may be a deal-breaker for a lot of people is the price. This game is 65 dollars Canadian, which I feel is a bit excessive. While the game definitely has enough content to warrant its high price, it just lacks the polish of most 60 dollar games.
Regardless, it is a game I can wholeheartedly recommend. The gameplay is fun, combat has a nice rhythm to it, and the online multiplayer is pretty damn good. If you’re on the fence about this game, then it’s best to wait for a sale. I’d say that this game is a pretty solid dungeon crawler with good writing and fun characters, but it sadly doesn’t offer much beyond that. There’s no gameplay mix-ups here, just good old-fashioned slashing and looting. However, that’s all I was looking for when it came to this game, so it definitely filled that void!