What is this?
Snake Party is my final release on Xbox Live Indie Games, and is a follow-up to Snake360, my first release on XBLIG. Its highlights are the latest version of Snake360's intense, addictive and hilarious Battle Mode--with many new features and refinements--plus a brand new single-player Mission Mode containing over 100 unique challenges, some of which are extremely tough!
Is this the sequel to Snake360? I remember seeing "Snake361" at a convention.
For now, this is what Snake361 has become. My plans for the true sequel were quite ambitious. I had created the first course of the new campaign (maybe you played it?) and then sat on it for a very long time. I eventually realized that the concept for the new campaign was flawed, and frankly, not as fun as I had originally hoped. Many years had passed since Snake360's release, and the Xbox 360 was already taking a backseat to newer consoles. And yet, I had updated and refined Battle Mode all the while, continuing to show it at conventions with very positive results. Teleporters, new modifiers and new stages kept players coming back.
I ultimately decided to scrap Snake361, along with many of the features that didn't pan out or just didn't work. But I felt that it'd be a shame not to release what I'd done so far. I'd already put together the framework for Mission Mode, as well. So I decided to release a version of this game that doesn't have a campaign, but instead focuses on what Snake360 excelled at all along: fun multiplayer and challenging single-player. Thus, the Battle and Mission modes take center stage. But what's a Snake game without a survival mode? I'd actually planned four for Snake361, and after cutting one that was entirely unnecessary, the other three remained. So I included them all. A few bonus modes that I'd already completed round out the package.
All of that being said, I am not done with this concept. The true sequel to Snake360 is yet to come. It may take a while, maybe years, but if I have my way, you will eventually see it.
Okay, so what is the full extent of what I can do in Snake Party?
You will be able to enjoy the following multiplayer modes:
BATTLE: Really, the highlight of the package. Tons of options (see below) and near-endless replayability on 20 unique stages. 2-4 players (humans only; no AI is included).
SCORE COMPETITION: Pick a difficulty, then challenge a friend on randomly-selected stages from Snake360. You get one try per stage; whether you crash or not, you move to the next stage. Highest total score wins. If you clear a stage, you'll get the end-of-level bonus, so try not to crash. 2 players.
(Both of these modes are strictly offline affairs; sorry, but just as in Snake360, online multiplayer is not supported.)
The following single-player modes are available:
MISSION: There are over 100 scripted challenges for you to attempt. They'll start very easy but will get very, very hard. The last few will need to be unlocked before they can be played. Your progress will be tracked, and you get an unlimited number of attempts.
SURVIVAL: Select a stage from the pool of 20, then last as long as possible without crashing. As in Snake360, you will need to take targets to extend the timer. How long can you last? There are actually three different Survival modes (see below).
GAUNTLET: Pick a difficulty, then try to complete a set of random levels from Snake360 using a limited number of lives. Endless challenge awaits you here!
???: If you manage to complete ALL of the Missions, you will unlock a cool bonus. I won't say what it is, but...if you are old enough to have spent time with QBASIC, I think you'll be very pleased with it. =)
Tell me about the Battle Mode options!
First of all, you can Battle in one of three different modes. You can only select one of these at a time.
MODE 1. NORMAL: Snakes grow as targets are collected.
MODE 2. REVERSAL: Snakes grow as targets are collected, but also change direction each time a target is collected. In other words, the head becomes the tail and vice versa.
MODE 3. INFINITY: Snakes grow continuously, for as long as they are alive. Targets will not appear at all.
Next, you have the ability to select modifiers. You can turn each one on or off. Feel free to use none, one, several, or all of them at once!
MOD 1. SUFFOCATION: Snake360's addictive, game-changing mechanic returns! Collisions will not eliminate you; instead, your snake will simply stop moving. You then have up to 3 seconds to make another move. This time is represented by a "lifebar" below your score. Making a move before time expires will reset the timer to 3 seconds, so you'll have a new 3 seconds each time you're stuck. If time expires, you are eliminated. By default, this is on. If you turn it off, collisions will eliminate you immediately, as in classic Snake.
MOD 2. CORPSE: If on, eliminated snakes remain as obstacles.
MOD 3. VARIABLE SPEED: If on, snakes will randomly change speed every few seconds. The amount of time is randomly chosen within a range. The slowest/fastest speeds won't last for as long as the more moderate speeds.
MOD 4. BLINK: This can be turned on for snakes, walls, or both. If on, whatever you've selected will constantly be fading in and out of view, making it harder to see.
Beyond the mode and mods, you can also select other things as in Snake360, like growth rate, score limit, snake speed, and the number of targets present at a time. This time around, though, you can also select target size. Snake360's targets were simple 1x1 cubes, but you can now use 2x1 or 2x2 sizes as well. In fact, 2x2 is the default size. If your group contains players that aren't quite experts, they can spend less time circling targets and more time enjoying the game. This is kind of like the philosophy behind Suffocation. =)
The Battle Mode screenshots talk about points, not wins. What's the point system about?
Snake360 measured your performance in one way and one way only: did you win the round, or not? If you almost won the round, but didn't, you had nothing to show for it.
Snake Party uses a point system instead. The longer in the round that you last, the more points you will score. The winner of the round earns significantly more points than anyone else, but players that last past the first elimination will at least come away with something.
2-player matches are unaffected; beating your opponent will score 1 point.
In a 3-player match, the winner will earn 3 points, while 2nd place earns 1.
In a 4-player match, the winner will earn 5 points. 2nd place earns 2, and 3rd place earns 1.
The match ends following the round during which the score limit is reached. In other words, if a player reaches the score limit while a round is in progress, the match continues until the round is over.
At the end of the match, the player with the most points wins. If multiple players are tied with the highest score, those players (and only those players) enter a Sudden Death round. The winner of the Sudden Death round wins the match.
Besides the new modes and mods, the new stages, and the revamped scoring system, have any other improvements have been made to Battle Mode?
There are two in particular.
- When Battle Mode is in progress with fewer than 4 players, others can jump in at any time by connecting a controller and pressing START! They will play as unregistered guests until you return to the Join screen, at which point they can select or create a profile.
- There are now "lifebars" for each player under their score. These provide a graphical representation of exactly how much time you have left before Suffocation.
What's the difference between the 3 Survival modes?
Snake Party gives you three different ways to enjoy Survival Mode! You'll start with 8 unique levels and unlock up to 20. Records for each mode will be tracked independently.
NORMAL: Similar to Snake360's Survival Mode. Take targets to add time to the clock. Manage your space carefully, but keep moving or you'll run out of time! Take a risk and try a faster snake speed...it can pay off if you play skillfully!
DUAL: Same as Normal, but with a huge twist: you change direction every time you take a target! (This is the same as Battle's Reversal Mode.)
3-MINUTE SCORE RUSH: The clock starts at 3 minutes and there's no way to extend it. You will need to take risks to get a high score!
Where are the Survival Mode leaderboards? Is there Internet Ranking?
There are only local leaderboards, and no.
What? How can you have a game like this without leaderboards?
Xbox Live Indie Games' audience has dwindled considerably, and Snake360's leaderboards were never very populated to begin with. To this day, many of them still contain zero entries. For that reason, I decided not to include the Internet Ranking feature.
However, in its place, I have added two things that should increase the fun and replay value of Survival Mode. The first is local leaderboards. If more than one player is enjoying Snake Party on your Xbox 360, your scores will be ranked against each other! The second is a grading system. After each Survival Mode run, you will get a grade on your time (Normal/Dual) or score (3-Minute Score Rush). The grades range from F all the way to SS. C represents an okay performance; A means you did well. During development, I gave each stage a try or two, occasionally three. If you manage to get a SS grade, it means that you beat my run! Your overall performance over all stages will be measured. Keep practicing, and try for the overall SS grade!
What are the control options?
As with Snake360, you can use either analog stick, the D-pad (if you're a masochist), the LB/RB buttons, or--the best choice, in my opinion--the ABXY buttons. An added feature is the ability to zoom in and out using LT and RT when using the FOLLOW or ZOOMED camera modes. This should help with some of the tougher levels!
How do unlocks work? Any hidden stuff I should know about?
85 Missions are available from the start, but with each 5 you complete, you'll unlock one more. You'll notice the "Extra Missions" page fill in, one mission at a time, and then the "Insane Missions" page. Keep playing and you'll have them all before long.
Unlocks in Survival Mode are tied to the grading system. The more/better grades you get, the more levels you'll unlock. You'll start with 8 and unlock 12 more as you play. Your performance in all 3 modes will count towards unlocks, and you'll unlock levels faster if you play all 3, but it is possible to unlock all 12 additional levels by just playing one single mode, if you do well enough.
You will unlock a new stage in Battle Mode for each 2 battles you play. You'll start with 8 and unlock 12 more. The logged-in profile with the most unlocked stages determines the number of stages available for all players.
Completing all of the Missions unlocks a bonus single-player mode.
As far as hidden secrets, there's really only one: the hidden Debug Mode menu. The method for accessing it is actually the same as in Snake360, but there is a lot more to do with it this time. You can unlock everything, disable profiles for more casual environments, disable the ABXY buttons if you're only using digital joysticks, or even activate the Kiosk Mode and menu timers that I personally use at conventions, for a true arcade-like feel. I hope you enjoy this fun little bonus. While Kiosk Mode is active, you can press LB+RB+BACK+START to soft reset.
How do profiles work? Do they work the same way as in Snake360?
No. The entire system has been simplified, in an effort to make it more jump-in, jump-out friendly. In Snake360, each player needed to be signed into a separate user profile on the X360, so if you wanted four players, you needed four profiles. No more! All data is now saved under a single user's profile. This will make it easier for the vast majority of users.
If multiple users are signed into your 360 when you start Snake Party, you'll be prompted to press START on the controller of the player whose profile you'd like to use.
When a player joins the game, they'll be prompted to select a Snake Party profile, or to create a new one. The profile creation process is simple: just enter your name!
Records and unlocks are tracked separately for each profile. In Battle Mode, the logged-in profile with the most stages unlocked determines the number of stages available for all players. The "Best 5" scores displayed in Survival represent the top scores across all profiles.
Can I try it before I buy it?
Yes! Absolutely. As with all other Xbox Live Indie Games, you can play an 8-minute Trial Mode before you buy the game. If time expires, the trial can be relaunched an unlimited number of times. Most of the game's features are available in some capacity, with the following exceptions and restrictions:
- Multiplayer is limited to 2 players. Buy the game to enjoy 3- and 4-player Battles!
- Gauntlet and Score Competition modes are not available.
- Only the first 2 stages will be available in Survival and Battle Modes. But, all 3 Survival modes are available to try.
- Only 15 Missions out of the initial 85 will be available. Specifically, you'll get the first 3 on each of the first 5 pages. If you complete them all, you'll unlock the first 3 Extra Missions along the way, for a total of 18.
- It is not possible to save any of the progress or records you achieve in Trial Mode. When you unlock the full game, you must start over.
- The Debug Mode menu can't be accessed in Trial Mode.
So what was planned for Snake361 that isn't included in Snake Party?
A new campaign was planned; it was never finished, so that's not included. I was likely going to include the original Snake360 campaign too. After some deliberation I decided not to include that either. If you want to play the Snake360 campaign, it's available in Snake360 for just three US dollars...not a lot of money!
A level editor was planned, but I never got around to it.
Replay saving was planned, and it almost worked. Saving and loading happened, but the timing of playback was somehow wrong. I stared at it for hours, but in the end, I just couldn't get it to work. I apologize to all who would have enjoyed using this feature.
The special unlockable bonus mode was actually TWO bonus modes. I cut that down to one.
A profile system with XP and leveling had been planned, with level-ups unlocking hidden elements. That never happened.
The Goal Board was going to have been expanded, but it was scrapped in favor of a simpler unlock system.
I think I pretty much covered most of what I'd originally been planning. I am now planning the true sequel. It won't necessarily have all of Snake361's planned features, but I definitely want it to have some of them, such as replay saving. Stay tuned.
So, in a nutshell, that is Snake Party! I hope you'll love it as much as I do!