When was the last time anyone played a racing game with a Snail as the main choice of character or ride? Never? Almost never? That’s why when I first saw this game, I had no idea what to expect. Was I in for a “snail-paced” and boring racer? Or as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover? Even after just several minutes of Snail Mail action, I knew I had the answer to my question. Snail Mail is an amazingly fun and fast paced racing game for the iPhone.
Sandlot Games, the company behind the hit title Cake Mania, first released Snail Mail on the PC. Now with a port to the iPhone, I truly believe another hit racing title has arrived at the App Store. The story behind Snail Mail reads like a Star Wars intro:
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….There is turmoil within the within the Republic. The SLUG PIRATES have established trade barriers all along the Intergalactic Highway barring all package delivery. Fearful of the Slugs wrath, the Galaxy Postal Service has gone on strike. Meanwhile on planet Earth, a young snail named TURBO has come of age and is ready to join the ranks of SNAIL MAIL, the fastest delivery service in the known universe. Now Turbo will have to brave great dangers to collect, protect, and deliver the packages that we reply upon…
Playing as “Turbo the Snail”, your mission is to navigate (by tilting your iPhone) through the Intergalactic Highway and collect as many packages as possible. Along the way, you will encounter asteroids, pirate slugs and turrets that fire at you. Mounted on your shell is a canon that can be fired by tapping on the screen. At first, pirate slugs cannot be shot down. As you pass through white rings found along the course, your canon becomes more powerful and eventually be able to take down your foes. Salt blocks are also littered throughout the highway and you must dodge them to avoid Turbo from taking too much damage.
Gameplay is where Snail Mail really shines. Within the first few seconds of controlling Turbo, you will realize how responsive the tilt controls are. They are sensitive, but never too much that you feel like you are not in control of Turbo. This is critical to the game’s success and fun factor. Snail Mail is considered a racer, but being able to keep Turbo ON the highway is more important than just collecting packages. The developers have done a great job in creating challenging courses that will have you falling off the course if you are not careful. Every level seems to offer something different, be it roller coaster like loops you must go through; zipping through tiny platforms without tipping over; dodging pirates with a jetpack; bouncing your way through space trampolines; or simply dodging enemies and salt left, right and center.
Part of the fun in Snail Mail is how challenging the game can be at times. More often than not, you will find yourself falling off the track for a boat load of reasons (sliding off a narrow stretch, missing the gap when jumping through turrets, not gaining enough speed for long jumps, missing a trampoline by a hair…you get the idea). On two of the levels, I must have tried more than twenty times before I was able to reach the finish line. The crazy thing about this was that I didn’t feel one bit frustrated with having to play the level over and over again. Every time you have to do a course over, you don’t feel the monotony since certain parts of a track as well as the location of packages and enemies are changed in order to keep you from getting too comfortable. More than once, I plunged into deep space as the launching ramp that was previously on the right side of the track was now suddenly on the left side. Awesome.
Enough modes of play will keep you wanting more sweet snail action. There are three modes of play available in this racer. The meat of the game though is found in Postal mode, which will put you to the test in 50 levels of well designed race tracks. In Challenge Mode, you are able to increase or decrease the speed settings of the game as well as its difficulty in seemingly random levels. Finally, Time Trials allows you to set your personal best times on levels that have already been passed in Postal Mode.
Snail Mail has quickly become one of my favorite games on the iPhone. Truth be told, I had not expected very much from a racing title where you must control a snail. With its fast paced racing that runs both smoothly and beautifully, it is hard not to like the game. Factor in how much fun you will have zigging and zagging your way through well designed tracks, Snail Mail should be considered one of the top racers for the iPhone. At $1.99, the game is a definite steal and highly recommended.