Snowy: The Bear’s Adventures Review—Beary Good Indeed

SnowyTitle

Although Alawar Entertainment is mostly known for their casual games, such as the Farm Frenzy and Treasures of Montezuma series, this game, Snowy: The Bear’s Adventures is one of their arcade-style games. Snowy the rather svelte polar bear has somehow left the Arctic and has entered a series of strange worlds, inhabited by dangerous monsters. To return home, Snowy must defeat all these opponents, level by level.

Apparently being a sporting sort of polar bear, rather than rend his opponents with the massive claws and teeth that polar bears have, he throws snowballs at them. Repeatedly, covering them up with snow, eventually turning them into a giant snowball. He then kicks these giant snowballs to their doom. Sometimes the entrapped critter falls out of the giant snowball and becomes an ice statue, then shatters. It’s actually pretty horrible when you think about it, but it’s very cute in action.

PC version, but looks the same. Snowy's helicopter.

PC version, but looks the same. Snowy's helicopter.

It doesn’t seem to be an obvious clone of any existing arcade game that I know of, but it does remind me somewhat of Dig Dug. In that game, you had to kill your opponents by pumping them up full of air by repeatedly tapping the fire button. The same is true here, except that you hit them a lot with snowballs. The bigger difference is that the action takes place on platforms. Each level has a different design as well, which adds a bit of a puzzle aspect to the game.

Besides affecting where Snowy and the opponents can go, the layout of the level can have a big impact on where the giant opponent-filled snowball can go. With proper aim when you kick it, you can snowroll other opponents. But if you aren’t careful, Snowy gets caught up in it as well. This doesn’t actually hurt him, so it can in fact be a useful tactic.

The first boss—a giant teapot, tall and stout....

The first boss—a giant teapot, tall and stout....

Snowy can collect power-ups, some of which just fall out of nowhere from the sky, but others are from defeated monsters. Most of these simply improve his existing powers—have him throw farther or bigger snowballs—but one gives him his own little helicopter in which to ride around. While a polar bear by itself is a fearsome predator, a polar bear flying a helicopter is even more of one, and so while flying it, he destroys any enemy he touches.

Once you have defeated all the creatures on a level, you get a brief moment to collect any remaining loot, then move to the next one. There are 88 levels in all, grouped into 4 different worlds, with each world having different graphics. At the end of each world, there is a boss fight. These are pretty tough; you need to knock the big snowballs into the boss. Once you learn the pattern, it’s not so hard, but at first, the boss encounters are deadly. They also don’t seem to be that different from one another, other than the graphics.

I think that's supposed to be Canada....

I think that's supposed to be Canada....

The game has three difficulty levels, including one aimed at kids. This mode is a little easier, and most importantly, you get a hundred lives, while the other two difficulties only give ten lives. The number of enemies per level also changes. Beyond the difficulty level selection, there are a lot of nice features, like it automatically saving the game in progress when you exit via the menu, high score tables for each difficulty, and several dozen awards you can earn.

Graphically, the game looks very nice. The graphics are colorful, everything is well animated, and things move nice and smoothly. The music is equally pleasant and cheerful.

You wouldn't think a polar bear would need to throw snowballs at chickens....

You wouldn't think a polar bear would need to throw snowballs at chickens....

Snowy: The Bear’s Adventures is a very pleasant surprise. About the only thing I didn’t like about it was the lack of enemy variety. There are only 8 different types, one of which is only in boss fights. So more like 7, over 88 levels. Also, one of the enemies is a dog. Being a dog owner, that bugged me a little, as well as perhaps making this not for kids. Granted, it’s only cartoon violence, but still, killing dogs might be upsetting to them. It’s a little strange they went with a pet for one of the things you kill.

But besides that issue, it’s just a very fun game. It’s also a good value; it took me a few hours to play through it on the easiest difficulty, and the higher ones mix things up a little with the opponents, so it’s worth replaying.

8.5/10

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Comments

4 Responses to “Snowy: The Bear’s Adventures Review—Beary Good Indeed”
  1. thumbbandit says:

    I enjoyed this game too… the choice of the three difficulty levels really helps a lot.
    The gameplay itself is quite like ‘Bubble Bobble’. :D :D :D

  2. JeremyR says:

    D’oh!

    Strangely enough, my knowledge of arcade games pretty much stops when I got my driver’s license (which was in 1986) and became more interested in cars, among other things.

  3. zankurous says:

    Good game indeed, it feels well done and looks pretty good even though it is definitely a clone of Toaplan´s “Snow Bros”.

  4. sniper712 says:

    one more to the want list.

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