Snow reason for this
For whatever reasons, Snow Bros. rented space in my brain as a youth. I think a cabinet was only briefly available in my hometown’s hockey arena, but a brief sight of it was enough to get me itching for more time with it. Why were the longest-running cabinets in that arena Altered Beast and Pang? I wanted to find a home version of it, but the only one I would have had access to was for the NES, and my family traded ours away when I was very young.
That doesn’t mean much, though. Like many kids, I was stupid. However, it still resulted in a lasting soft spot for Snow Bros. Not enough to play the mobile titles that have come along since, but enough that when Snow Bros. Nick & Tom Special was announced, it caught my attention. However, years of less-than-fantastic arcade revivals have left me rather cynical, and, okay, maybe I was expecting the worst. Whether or not it’s actually successful is probably going to come down to what you expect from such a return.
Snow Bros. Nick & Tom Special (Switch)
Publisher: Daewon Media
Released: May 19, 2022
It’s a pretty simple formula. Snow Bros. is often compared to Bubble Bobble. You’re playing as normal humans who have been turned into freaks. In this case, snowmen. Instead of bubbles, you have to cover your enemies in snow, then roll them into the other enemies. It’s single screen and extremely basic, which makes it a strong little quarter-muncher.
So, why not just do an Arcade Archive release? Good question. For Snow Bros. Nick & Tom Special, the graphics have been reworked and the number of levels has been upped from 50 to 80. That may seem significant, but even though the levels are laid out differently, they’re all functionally the same. There are additional bosses, but I never found the bosses to be a particularly strong point of the original. There’s a survival mode and a time trial, but those are just different ways to play through the 80 levels.
Finally, there’s a Monster Challenge mode, but that’s $10 DLC that should have been included in the main package. It was released at the same time, why lock what might be the most unique addition behind nickel and diming?
Old Man Winter
You can play with the original or remixed music, but for some reason, you can’t play with the original graphics. The new graphics are fine. They’re reasonably similar to the original sprite work, but when I can’t play with a game’s familiar pixels, I feel like I’m being forced to accept a new look. I’m old. New things scare me.
In the normal arcade mode, you play with unlimited credits. I have mixed feelings. Being able to continue indefinitely in a game like this means that a lot of the challenge is removed. Not all of it, some of the bosses are still kind of tricky, but even if you bumble through it, Snow Bros. Nick & Tom Special only lasts an afternoon at best. Again, this kind of makes the extra stages lose some of their value since you can fly through them. Survival mode limits your continues if you want the extra challenge.
It puts Snow Bros. Nick & Tom Special in this position where it doesn’t actually prove why it’s not just a re-release of the original. Not convincingly at least. If you compare it to, say, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends it doesn’t hold up. Bubble Bobble 4 Friends had its own deficiencies, but the developers at least looked at the gameplay and did something more than just adding levels. Depth was layered over top to give it a sort of puzzle feel to it. Then you could also play the original Bubble Bobble if that’s what you were looking for. The asking price was a lot higher, but it at least argued well for its existence.
As for Snow Bros. Nick & Tom Special; it’s fine. At $20, it’s not a ridiculous proposition, but it’s not an outstanding one either. Snow Bros. isn’t exactly a classic, so while I’m happy to see it pop up again, I’m not very enthusiastic enough about the end result to start throwing around recommendations. It’s not a game that has been ported very often, so having it available at all is worth the release.
However, it could have just been a port. Better yet, the original version could have been included. A lot of things could have been thrown in to make it a more tempting purchase. Why not throw in the lesser-known sequel? I don’t think it was even released in North America. Instead, we get a reasonable but unexceptional update of a worthwhile but unspectacular arcade game. Enh. It’s enh.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the author.]