Fresh off Beatshapers’ porting production line comes Snowy: Treasure Hunter, a title starring a polar bear with a passion for treasure thievery. But while Beatshapers' porting pedigree speaks for itself, are Snowy’s adventures really worth the £6.49 asking price?
Presented from a side-on view, the goal of each level is to collect all of the treasure onscreen, with the catch being that Snowy can’t jump or travel upwards without assistance. This means that in order for you to collect everything, you must climb ladders and shimmy across ropes in order to reach the top of an environment and then decide which would be the most treasure-rich method of descent.
Snowy also inexplicably comes equipped with his own pickaxe. This can dig special blocks away, allowing you to fall through to a previously unreachable level below, or in some cases, uncover hidden treasure as indicated by sparkling blocks. Once you’ve managed to pillage all of a level’s loot a key to the exit will appear, signalling the end of that stage.
Unfortunately for Snowy, foul beasts prowl the levels, and are particularly fond of what is (probably) rightfully theirs. The knights patrol a certain area and only venture off-course when you enter their field of view. Ghosts will give chase, but despite being able to float, lack the ability to follow you up ladders. The coup de grâce for poor Snowy, though, arrives in the form of monsters. These pestilent pests will stop at nothing to get you, falling, climbing, and walking wherever you go. When there’s more than one of them, they’re easily the most frustrating element of the game.
Thankfully, multiple items are on hand to aid you in your quest for gold. Specifically placed jackhammers will allow you to dig directly down through multiple blocks and Pumpkin bombs will destroy bricks in their immediate vicinity. When you tire of running from your foes, non-lethal weapons, such as traps and decoy inflatable versions of Snowy, are available to level the playing field, and there are usually a few hiding places for when it all becomes a bit too much.
Two local multiplayer modes are available should you wish to take the plunge: Duel, where you must compete for treasure dominance, and Survival, where you and a partner must outwit a train of monsters for as long as possible. Oddly enough, in Duel, it’s not about who collects the most treasure, but more who can survive the longest.
Regrettably, it’s not a great deal of fun. The lack of analogue stick accuracy renders it completely useless, forcing a d-pad only strategy unless you wish to be caught by hungry monsters. It’s these guys, though, that really ruin the gameplay. If you’re being chased around by a single foe, levels are entirely possible, but as soon as there are three or more, it becomes a hellish slog of reluctant retries and screams of, “Oh, come on! He wasn’t anywhere near me!”
The speed of Snowy is also a huge factor. Everything that you wish to do, other than walk or climb, takes far too long to complete. There were multiple occasions where we were trying to mine the block next to us – mining directly beneath you isn’t allowed for some reason – and because we weren’t stood in the exact spot that we were meant to be, the mining attempt either didn’t work, or it took so long that we were caught. Just minor adjustments made to the time that it takes to deploy items and mine would make a world of difference.
However, our biggest issue with Treasure Hunter is its past. When trying to do a little research, we discovered that in a previous life it existed, and indeed continues to exist, as a Flash-based browser game. We were even able to play almost identical levels to the ones in this premium PS3 offering. Granted it has been given an HD makeover, with bonus items, extra levels, and more features like multiplayer modes and leaderboards, but the price tag is still far too high.
There are an impressive 145 levels in Snowy: Treasure Hunter, but the frustrating difficulty spikes coupled with the dull and uninspired gameplay will prevent you from venturing past the first two dozen. This may be an enhanced re-release, but the fact that you can play the core campaign for free elsewhere means that you should probably stay frosty, and avoid adding this one to your icy shopping cart.