Snoopy takes on the Freemium world
Capcom and Beeline made Freemium their own with the excellent Smurf's Village, but can they take another well loved franchise and make it a success on iOS? We take a Snoop(y) in to the world of Peanuts to find out.
The world created by Charles M Schulz is a much loved place and there are Snoopy fans worldwide. Every Christmas the Charlie Brown Christmas films get played on TV in the US and it's become tradition to begin the festive period by watching one. So taking on the franchise is a risky business, getting any part of it wrong could be a disaster. Fortunately, it seems as if Beeline are fans too, because from the moment you enter Charlie Brown's town it all feels just the way it should.
So full points for nostalgia, but can the game keep up the good start made by the first impressions? It begins with Charlie Brown needing to raise enough money for uniforms in order to attend a big baseball game. A street fair seems to be the best option and the game sets this up as the challenge; earn enough money by erecting stalls and waiting for customers to come by.
For anyone honed on the Smurfs Village game the gameplay here should be fairly familiar. Stalls and scenery require a certain amount of money to set up and then will earn a set amount over a specific time. Collecting money earned is simply a case of touching the stall when the money icon appears. Some items can only be bought with Snoopy dollars, the game's equivalent of Smurfberries and the item that links this game to its freemium ideal. Starting off with just a few of these dollars, you soon realises that getting anywhere in a hurry just isn't possible without using real cash to buy more.
Those who like to take a more sedate pace and don't mind waiting will still be able to get far without laying down any money, but it certainly seems more difficult to make progress than the Smurf game ever did. There is the argument that this game is initially free, though, and if you enjoy playing it then paying a few pounds or dollars to unlock some in-game currency is just like paying for a standard game on the App Store. At least you get to try this game out for free.
As you level up more stalls are made available, run by many of the famous characters from the cartoon strips. Patty, Lucy, Violet, Linus and even Woodstock have a stall in the game and all come with speech samples from the cartoons. Pressing on them will launch them into their little routine, which is cute but it's a shame there isn't more variety. Hearing them say or do the same things over and over can get a bit repetitive.
In addition to the stalls, carts can be added, which earn more money for the fair and flowers, chairs and other objects can also be added to spruce the place up. It does feel more restrictive than Beeline's last game, but it can make your game feel unique. This is important when it comes to the social aspect of the game. Using Facebook or Game Center, you can add friends, visit their village and leave presents for them. It never really feels too interactive and I found a few bugs which prevented me from adding people, but it's still a nice touch when you can find out how your friend's village is doing.
The kids who inhabit your street all have interesting things to say. Click on any of them and they'll impart a typically Peanuts-style nugget of wisdom, as well as telling you what they thought of the fair. It's a small touch that doesn't really do much for the game but is still a neat little addition.
You can also collect baseball style cards and stickers from the stalls. They fall out on to the street at random intervals and can then be swapped with friends. Collecting the whole set will take a huge amount of time, though.
Mini games are unlocked for a certain number of points or dollars too. These come with costumes for Snoopy and change his antics in the main game from the standard jumping in to leaves (to earn points) to an artist or scout leader. The games are a fun diversion, but don't last long and cost quite a bit to unlock.
Graphically, Snoopy's Street Fair is pretty much a perfect representation of the Peanuts universe. Along with the sampled sounds it goes a long way in making this feel like part of the world of Charlie Brown and his friends. Beeline have got to be commended for their art work and effort that has gone in to making this title feel right.
Whether you get a lot of joy from this game or not will really depend on two things; whether you love Peanuts and whether you are either patient enough to wait for new items or have the cash to spare to upgrade faster. Those who are already against freemium titles won't really be swayed by this game, but there is a lot of fun to be had for people who like the slower pace and love Snoopy.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 7
- Longevity: 6
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