“ Manufacturer: Ignition / Genre: Family & Entertainment / Release Date: 2003 „
In keeping with the "Rescue them 2 by 2" theme, I'd have thought Animal Snap be a video-game version of Concentration - the memory game where cards are turned over in twos to find pairs. Especially as the simple illustrations of the package are intended at children, so it was a surprise to find it was based on mah jong solitaire!
At least the 2 by 2 idea still stands, but for those not familiar with this tile game; tiles are arranged in a layered formation whereby matching pairs are to be removed, provided these are not covered by another tile and that they are free to move either left or right. Whilst this may sound simple to some, it not as straight-forward as it seems, as forward-thinking will be required.
Being mah jong solitaire, I hung around like a bad smell and got stuck into the game. Use of music is minimal in Animal Snap, and whilst there is little that would pass for animation, it was not easy to tell whether a tile was stacked on top of another because of the view adopted, so not a great start. Animal Snap doesn't use a full tile set so to speak, but there are transparent tiles, as well as those that spell out BONUS in amongst the animal picture tiles - so that's spelling and bees covered for you!
In the Time Challenge mode, getting BONUS in the correct order sees the screen switch to a game of Block Blaster. Initial impressions are that it's an imitation of Breakout (the Pong influenced arcade game introduced in 1976) but, on closer inspection Block Blaster is vastly inferior. Instead of bouncing a ball back and forth to destroy bricks, the player ship has to shoot at the bricks and avoid the bouncing ball. A score system is present, but there's no timer, the ball and ship are small, the firepower is bland and the boom sound effects are bad. Whilst I'm not really the intended audience, it's boring enough for me to say - NO SUB game! (See what I did there.)
Back to the mah jong solitaire. There are two modes of play: Arcade, with it's 4 table layouts to tackle in as quickest time as possible, and then there's the Time Challenge - ten rounds to be cleared out with five continues. In the latter, each round is to be completed within four minutes, and whilst the clock can be frozen temporarily, it is a showing sign that Ignition did not know whom to cater the game for. Given the timer, my complaint with regards to the controls is that there is no transition of the cursor from top to bottom of the screen, and similarly for the sides as well.
A round of mah jong solitaire can end prematurely - hence the loss of a continue - if the wrong move is made. In Animal Snap there is a feature whereby the next move is picked out. This can only be used a finite number of times, but not only does it not implement picking up on the BONUS, but it does not follow from what would be a correct order, so an incorrect pair can be highlighted.
Finally, I expect a computer game version of mah jong solitaire to avoid an arrangement of tiles where it is impossible to win. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Animal Snap, and the evidence is in concrete (or should that be bone?) - as there exists the probability of one tile in a sole pair lying on top of the other. Why play when the player loses through no fault of their own? The game saw to a low-key release, but to think that the target audience would be that of a young age - Ignition are to be thanked for this bizarrest of blunders. Thankfully, the quality game that is mah jong solitaire is easily and readily available elsewhere.