When we first played it at GDC, Snuggle Truck (then called Smuggle Truck) was a game about transporting illegal immigrants across the border. It wasn’t meant to be shocking or tasteless, but rather to spark an actual discussion about the state of immigration in the U.S. Instead, it created a media firestorm and was eventually rejected by Apple.
Now we’ve got a game called Snuggle Truck, which is essentially the same, but with cute stuffed animals instead of Mexican immigrants. Only a hint of the original advocacy can be found in the trailer, as these animals are seeking “a better life” in a plush zoo (complete with state-of-the-art health care). Fortunately, Snuggle Truck doesn’t need the immigration theme to be fun.
We’re going to da zoo, zoo, zoo, how about you, you, you?
At its core, this game takes inspiration from Excitebike, an old NES game where you had to try to keep your wheels on the ground as you navigated jumps and rocky terrain. Snuggle Truck adds a new twist in the form of an open truckbed, where your precious animal cargo can go spilling out if you’re not careful. To play, you have to press on the screen to accelerate while tilting to keep steady.
Bonuses for arriving at the zoo “border” quickly and without spilling any passengers make Snuggle Truck feel like a constant balancing act between speed and accuracy. On each level, you can earn up to five medals, and these can be used to unlock more and more levels. Replaying levels for different medals is half the fun of this game.
Deleted scene from Sarah Palin’s Alaska.
Snuggle Truck piles on the fun in even more ways. Several of the levels have been designed by ordinary users from Kongregate, and many of them have online high scores through Game Center. Plus, every once in a while a blue fuzzy animal will shoot straight up out of the back of the truck, adding an extra (but purely optional) challenge as you try to catch it.
When the game was called Smuggle Truck, it was a parody of current events. Snuggle Truck is no less fun, and it’s actually better for younger or casual gamers with the politics removed. You can still buy the original game online, but this iPhone version is absolutely worth buying. We’re not sure if Owlchemy will make more “issue” games, or if they’ll go the more accessible (and acceptable) route, just as long as they keep making them fun.