Another month, another PC to console port, this time in the form of Snakeybus courtesy of Digerati. This time around however, I’m pleased to say I was intrigued as soon as I clapped eyes on it. Why? Well, it pretty much does what it says on the tin, with something that looks like Boris’ bendy buses on steroids.
Hands up – who had a Nokia 3310? I did, and still remember it fondly to this day. Not only did the battery last about a week, but it also came with a killer app on board. You guessed it. Snake.
Snakeybus is essentially a bonkers 3D reimagining of the classic mobile game. However, instead of gobbling up little black pixels, the aim here is to pick up as many passengers as possible to increase your score and, as if by magic, your bus will grow longer as a side effect.
It becomes immediately apparent that Snakeybus is, well, pretty brutal. To pick up passengers you simply drive through crowds of them gathered at bus stands, and they will gravitate towards your bus as if magnetised to it. Luckily, your bus will always self-right, so you can pretty much attempt to pull off any stunt without consequence, ensuring you don’t stop altogether for more than a few brief seconds that is. If you do, in true Speed style it’s game over.
What is perhaps a tad unnecessary is when this happens your passengers all pour out the bus as it spontaneously combusts, killing everyone. Still, the ragdoll physics take the serious edge off it a bit I guess. If you don’t laugh even a little bit, like I did, then you are clearly dead inside.
Once you’ve picked up a certain number of passengers, indicated by a bar on the bottom left of your screen, you’ll need to take them to the drop off point, then head back out to collect more. Your destination will change each time to keep things varied, and thankfully a handy arrow will guide you to where you need to go. You don’t have to completely fill your bus before you can drop passengers off, but covering unnecessary ground may quite literally trip you up as your vehicle grows longer.
There’s no tutorial to be found in Snakeybus, but you can view a diagram of the control setup if you prefer. However, I’d recommend diving straight in on the “Museum” level which is a good place to familiarise yourself with the madness, as it’s a pretty simple and fairly spacious figure of 8 circuit. It won’t take you too long at all.
Your bus is a nifty machine, and can jump (which is really more of a jetpack manoeuvre), barrel roll, boost and drift. Your jump ability is limited, and will take a long time to recharge back up to full power. You’ll need to pull out every trick to keep moving as your bus gets longer. This is especially true when it starts to tie itself up in knots, which is a truly hilarious spectacle.
In Snakeybus, you can’t ever truly finish a level. It’s all about how many points you can earn, which are then used to unlock more buses and stages. This means that the differing game modes feel a bit pointless in all honesty. There’s Classic, Time Race, Endless and Aerial modes on offer.
Classic lets you play at your own leisure, the only aim being to keep moving. Time Race pits you against the clock as successful drop-offs extend your time. If you stop or run out of time it’s game over. Endless speaks for itself: there are no passengers to pick up here and there’s no way of dying so you can do whatever you like. Sadly, it’s devoid of everything that makes Snakeybus fun, and with no points up for grabs it is literally pointless. Thankfully you can only play Endless mode on a level of the same name, a desolate snowy mountain road. Quite a fitting metaphor, really.
Finally, Aerial mode is only playable on the “Cave” level, and the difference here is that you have an unlimited jump/jetpack meter which does not need to recharge. It’s fun, for about five seconds, until you realise the bus is impossible to control in mid-air. Trying to pass through the rings with your passengers is pure potluck, and in truth the controls render the mode pretty much unplayable.
You can snake, twist and bounce around 11 different levels including locations from the real world, such as Paris and Miami. In all honesty, Snakeybus works best in the larger, more open levels. In confined spaces, such as the dorm room, it turns into a bit of a mess.
You can unlock several different buses by achieving the required score. Although some vehicles do stretch the definition of “bus” a bit far – one is literally a truck.
It won’t take you too long to unlock all these either; probably after around an hour or so you’ll have unlocked most of the goodies, if not all of them.
In a rather strange juxtaposition to all the carnage that plays out (there is so much screaming), the soundtrack to Snakeybus is very chilled out. It somehow pulls off bulldozing through crowds of people in a demented bendy bus capable of pretty much flying as actually being pretty relaxing. It’s ludicrous but hard not to like.
Snakeybus is single player only game but online leaderboards are available for most levels and they add a competitive, score chasing element if you’re into that kind of thing.
Priced at a reasonable £9.99, Snakeybus on Xbox One isn’t exactly steeped in sophistication, but by god does it have a great USP. That alone makes it worth checking out. You can be certain of one thing here, and that is grinning like an idiot from start to finish.