Snow Bros. Nick & Tom Special
The original Snow Bros. was released in 1990 in Japan via the arcades with console ports on the NES, Mega Drive, and the Amiga in later dates. Its premise was simple as players took control of snowmen who threw snowballs at monsters, trapping them inside, and kicking them into other enemies. While it was popular enough to warrant a sequel, the IP remained dormant despite several clones recreating its premise in later years. Now, over 30 years later, Korean developers CRT Games have re-released the game in a modernized reimagining named Snow Bros. Special.
Months later, a special physical release titled Snow Bros. Nick & Tom Special graced the Nintendo Switch, adding in the bonus Monster Challenge DLC as well as some extra goodies. Three sheets of stickers and an instruction manual are included in the physical copy, which I find hilarious considering an instruction manual is labeled as exclusive content. Considering the gaming climate where all that's expected from a game case is a game warranty, I can see the point the packaging made.
I've never played Snow Bros. before but I was quickly able to understand the gameplay mechanics. My first thought was that its gameplay reminded me of Bubble Bobble instead replace bubbles with snowballs. You defeat enemies by turning them into snowballs and kicking them much like how you'd trap enemies in bubbles and crash into them. Stomping on them works the same in both games. The snowball will collide with other enemies, netting the player more points until the snowball crashes into a wall. There are also power-ups that either give the player a speed boost, increased range and power, and other benefits.
And...that's the gist of Snow Bros. Special. The original 50 levels return with 30 bonus levels, totaling 80 levels altogether. It sounds like a lot until you realize that most levels take seconds to complete, faster if the player has an idea of how to play the game. I give credit to CRT Games for going the extra mile to ensure the game is "arcade perfect." Players can "insert coins" which works as expected of an arcade game. Losing all of your lives and choosing to continue will reset the player's score, however. It also explains why the leaderboards for Snow Bros. Special is all over the place. You can tell who went the distance and who struggled.
There's a bonus "Monster Challenge" mode that was originally DLC yet is bundled with the physical version. Players play the original 80 levels but this time as the monsters the snowmen fight. The initial selection is limited but as the players complete tasks, stronger and more interesting monsters are unlocked. Unfortunately, I was only able to unlock one type of monster, but the choice to play as a dragon is always a great one. It doesn't add too much spice to Snow Bros. Special but it keeps the player engaged enough to play for a few more hours.
Perhaps this is why I wasn't too thrilled with Snow Bros. Special. On the surface, it is an "arcade perfect game" with updated 2D artwork in favor of sprites. But that's the thing, it's too similar to the arcade game. Almost "copy and paste." Aside from the Monster Challenge, which is DLC for digital owners, there's not much the game has to offer. The base game is $20 which is already too steep as cheaper games have had far more content. The MSRP is $30 which is the same as buying the base game plus the $10 DLC.
When games like TMNT Shredder's Revenge exist and offers loads of content for the same price point, it begs the question of when retro-inspired games become too much of the same vs when the extra mile is considered. Snow Bros. Special is not a bad game and physical copy collectors will enjoy having this on their shelf. It isn't a game I'd recommend except for the die-hard retro gaming fans.
Snow Bros. Nick & Tom Special is available on the Nintendo Switch.