Smuggle Truck Hands-On Preview

Smuggle Truck will be released tonight, but not in the form we played at GDC this year. Instead, it’s been renamed “Snuggle Truck” to make it through Apple’s approval process. Instead of Mexican immigrants, the game now stars a cast of cuddly stuffed animals trying to cross into a zoo. No matter the theme, the game is still a lot of fun, so look for this one when it hits the App Store at 8pm PST.

You know your attempt at satire has hit home when news organizations all across the country flip their collective lid. Headlines blaring “Controversial Game Called Offensive” have put Smuggle Truck in the spotlight, but according to the developers, the whole point of the game was to raise awareness of the issue of immigration.

Not just illegal immigration, like the “racing across the border in a pickup truck” variation seen in Smuggle Truck. The game also pokes fun at the legal immigration process, with a button on the main screen that says “Legal Immigration”. When you press it, you’re taken to a countdown timer, where you can wait for your application to be processed for 19 years.

Besides bringing attention to an important issue, Smuggle Truck is also a really fun game. With Excitebike as an obvious inspiration, your goal is to make it to the border in a pickup truck without spilling out the precious human cargo in the back. Bumps and hills will jostle your truck, so you’ll have to tilt the device to keep things steady.

The characters in the back of the truck are mostly ordinary people, but there are a few celebrities as well. We saw Ugly Betty, Sarah Palin, and Woody Allen lookalikes coming across the border, along with an honest-to-goodness alien (the UFO kind).

Occasionally, a baby will pop out of the truck, and go flying straight up in the air. You’ll have to slow down to catch it, which is actually pretty funny.

A wealth of achievements will almost certainly extend the replay value of the game. Each level has 1-3 stars to earn, and there are also achievements on each level for arriving with 100% of your cargo intact, or under a certain time limit.

And finally, there’s the level editor. The iPad version will cost a dollar extra ($2.99 instead of the iPhone version’s $1.99) but you’ll get the same level editor the developers used to make the game. Using it is as simple as dragging in a bit of terrain, and stretching it however you like. In a later update, you’ll also be able to share user levels as well.

Smuggle Truck is a very promising title, combining humorous satire with genuinely fun gameplay. And just so you know they’re not just picking on America’s neighbor to the south, there’s a Canada level as well. Smuggle Truck will be available in April, but you can play a Flash demo now.

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