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Mission in Snowdriftland - Indie Game Review

by: David Sanchez ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

It has a few gameplay and control issues, but Mission in Snowdriftland is a cheery, enjoyable retro-style platformer that harks back to the NES era.

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    A Solid Indie Sidescroller - Mission in Snowdriftland Review

    Mission in Snowdriftland - Indie Games Edition 

    There’s something to be said about a freeware game with a ton of heart. Originally released for a limited time in 2006, Mission in Snowdriftland has returned, and sadly, it is for a limited time once more. This time around, several indie game developers have teamed up to offer some neat downloads that can be unlocked throughout the course of the game. These range from wallpapers to avatars of games such as Retro City Rampage, chick chick BOOM, Super Meat Boy, and the upcoming Bit.Trip Flux.

    All of these downloads are pretty cool, and they certainly promote the indie game scene, but what makes Mission in Snowdriftland so great isn’t the bevy of extras. No, what makes this sidescrolling platformer so enjoyable is its gameplay which gets progressively harder the more you play and stays rewarding throughout.

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    Mission in Snowdriftland Story

    Chubby was just a snowman looking for a good role in a video game. 

    An evil penguin has stolen some very important video game files and takes them off to Snowdriftland. After some panicking, the United Pixelheroes Organization spots a harmless little snowman named Chubby who feels unsatisfied with the way things are going for him. The organization decides to enlist the aid of Chubby since he’s the only one that can stand the freezing temperatures of Snowdriftland, and your adventure begins. The game’s plot isn’t overbearing or overly complex. What you get is, in essence, a storyline that’s a lot like the quick briefings at the beginning of classic NES games.

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    Mission in Snowdriftland Gameplay

    There are hazards everywhere. 

    The game’s old-school appeal carries over into its gameplay mechanics. Mission in Snowdriftland is a pure, unadulterated 2D sidescroller. You stomp on some baddies, avoid others, jump across pitfalls, scale giant spider webs, and slide down slippery slopes. The good thing about Mission in Snowdriftland is that it doesn’t throw everything at you right from the get-go. The game progressively presents new elements, with the first levels consisting of basic platforming while later levels require precision jumping and strategic baddie-stomping.

    These features are all pretty great, but what makes them work so well is their placement within the levels. Mission in Snowdriftland is a true tribute to the classic 2D platformers that challenged and traumatized us when we played them on the NES, SNES, and Genesis. Enemies walk back and forth on platforms that you need to get to. Collectible snowflakes float over hazardous pitfalls. Lethal spikes decorate the floors and ceiling. It’s tough, there’s no doubt about it. And there are times when the game may feel a bit cheap, but in a nostalgic way. I can’t count the number of times I felt such intense satisfaction after clearing later levels following several dozen attempts.

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    As cool as the gameplay in Mission in Snowdriftland may be, the controls leave a lot to be desired. The directional keys and space bar are decent options for the game, but they still don’t compare to the precision that you get from a controller. Additionally, Chubby tends to slip a little too much due to his traction, and there are times where even a successful jump results in death due to the slippery mechanics. These things don’t make the game any less enjoyable, but they certainly cause plenty of unnecessary falls.

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    The game has a nice art style that is cheery and bright. 

    The game’s visuals are bright and bold, and they’re just what you would expect from a Flash game. Everything looks clean and fairly simple, but the locales all have a nice artsy look to them. The animations are also pretty cool. Chubby is a cutesy little guy, and seeing him kick up snow whenever he starts running adds a nice touch of personality to the game.

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    The music in the game is just as charming as the graphics. Each of the worlds in Mission in Snowdriftland has its own unique theme, and these songs change ever so slightly as you progress through the levels. It’s a great touch, and it keeps the music from ever getting stale, even after you’ve tried getting through a stage multiple times.

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    Lasting Value

    Collect all the snowflakes...if you dare. 

    You can get through Mission in Snowdriftland in just a couple of hours. There are hidden snowflakes in each of the game’s levels, and searching for these adds a good amount of time to the clock. And considering how difficult it is to collect some of the snowflakes, you can expect to spend a good chunk of time playing if your goal is to do everything in the game.

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    Mission in Snowdriftland Review - Permanent Release, Please

    It’s a shame that Mission in Snowdriftland is only out for a limited time. With a few refinements to the mechanics and tighter controls, this title could easily make its rounds on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and WiiWare. The latest revival of Mission in Snowdriftland is not only an ode to independent game design, but a tribute to gaming in general. Play it now before it leaves us all over again at the end of January.