Snood: Flawed Casual Play

Match-three puzzle games are a dime a dozen these days, but Snood made a name for itself at a time when the casual market was still gaining steam on the strength of Solitaire and Tetris, which had begun to sap worker productivity everywhere. The requirement that you fire the Snoods into the field of play, thus requiring you to not only think strategically but also aim your shots carefully, gave it a twist that was unique at the time.

The game has been published for many platforms over the years, so of course it had to eventually show up at the App Store. This version is a solid effort all around, but its Facebook requirement for online multi-player sessions might be frustrating for those who prefer not to sign up for social networking sites and have their personal data mined. (You can also play via Wi-Fi, but that requires your opponent to be on the same network.)

In my admittedly limited experience with multi-player, the function works pretty well, although it did unexpectedly crash the game once. Of course, you're limited to people on your Facebook friends list, so you need one of them to be around when you want to play, as opposed to simply searching for all other available Snood players. Facebook integration should have been a subset of the multi-player option, as opposed to being the whole thing.

I also found the controls to be a little skittish, particularly without something covering the iPhone's glass screen. Since I had to replace my iPhone under warranty and haven't yet put a shield over my new handset's screen, I was able to compare the two. With something covering the screen, there's enough resistance for more precise aiming, while sliding my finger over glass resulted in more poor shots than I would have liked. Given the game's emphasis on well-aimed shots, particularly on tougher difficulty settings and at higher levels, I can see how players may become frustrated, although that's not something the developers could control. This is a situation where the game would probably play better on a clickwheel iPod, but that platform seems to be a dead end for game development.

Otherwise, Snood on the iPhone is a lot of fun. Classic mode features the basic gameplay we're all familiar with: Shoot a Snood into the mass of Snoods above, trying to create matches of three or more that disappear. Any Snoods hanging onto the matched Snoods – and not attached to any others – drop off too. Score bonus points for pulling off tricky shots and use special Snoods for an advantage, such as the bomb Snood that destroys any it attaches to. Don't dilly-dally, though, because the Snoods drop down every so often, and if they reach the bottom of the screen, the game ends.

In Time Attack mode, the danger meter that dictates how often the Snoods drop down fills faster at higher difficulty levels. There's also a Puzzle mode that serves up specific situations tailored toward strategic thinking as well as a Story mode that has something to do with teleporting Snoods out of danger or whatever. I doubt anyone plays puzzle games for the stories.

All of that adds up to a fun experience that's perfect for those moments when you're waiting in line, commuting on the bus, and so forth. However, that brings up one other downside: you can't save games in progress, which is annoying, Hopefully that will be fixed in a future update.

Product: Snood

Company: Electronic Arts

List Price: US$3.99



Solid adaptation of a classic game
Plenty of game modes to choose from


Facebook-only requirement for online multi-player sessions is limiting
Controls can be a little skittish on a naked iPhone screen, although the developers couldn't control that
Lack of ability to save sessions in progress