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Azure Snake (Wii U) artwork

Azure Snake (Wii U) review

"If you can play only 1 game about a blue serpent, don't let it be Azure Snake. If that means you play none, fine!"

If you look up Azure Snake on the North American eShop right now, you'll currently find a brief description that sums it up as follows: "Azure Snake is a beautiful snake in the world of light." I can think of any number of other descriptions for the title that are at least equally accurate, and none of them are especially positive. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Azure Snake, priced at $0.99, is a budget release from RandomSpin. I've seen the publisher's name attached to a number of similarly inexpensive offerings, and I think I may even have purchased a few of them on a whim, but this time I decided I would actually give the game in question a go while it was the hottest new title on the digital storefront. After all, how many more Wii U games should we really expect to see arrive in the marketplace, with all eyes justifiably focused on the Nintendo Switch?

Azure Snake (Wii U) image

If you look at the screenshots, you'll see that Azure Snake looks about like the classic game of Snake (which I first encountered on Apple Iie as Viper, way back in my elementary school days). In those older games, you move a snake around and collect objects. Eating them briefly pauses time as your body expands, and the goal is to avoid bumping up against the edge of the screen or even your own body as you continue to add to your total length and thus your overall score.

Azure Snake works similarly, but the developers responsible must have decided the old rules were too stressful. In this newer take on the concept, you don't have to worry about the menace that is your own body. You can in fact double up and crisscross yourself to your heart's content, like you're embroidering. Also, you collect green orbs instead of mice or rats or whatever. I imagine that's a positive change for folks who are rodent sympathizers.

Azure Snake (Wii U) image

This is probably a good time to mention that Azure Snake is not a pretty game. It's just about the most hideous thing I've ever played, actually. The background is a blur of a few different colors that sort of bleed into each other. The general appearance is not unlike what you might get if a unicorn ate rainbow jelly beans and then vomited the meal up on a concrete slab and you threw a blue--I'm sorry, make that "azure"--snake into the soup and told it to swim around in search of green pellets. This presentation is made even worse by a sort of strobe effect. Light flashes appear randomly around the screen, fairly bright, and I'm not sure I would want to trust the experience to anyone with sensitivity to such things.

A 3DS version of Azure Snake released at the same time, and for the same price. That edition naturally splits things between two screens, with menu options on the bottom one. I foolishly assumed that on Wii U, I could play using just the gamepad and leave the boob tube out of the equation. So I booted up the game and found that while I could "start" a game, nothing happened until finally it informed me I had lost (which took a few seconds). You have to play this one by looking at the television screen and using the d-pad or face buttons on the gamepad to direct movements.

Azure Snake (Wii U) image

I already mentioned that the developers removed the penalty for bumping into yourself, and I feel like that's the kind of adjustment that eliminates virtually any reason to even play the game in the first place. You speed up gradually as you play, but the process takes too long and the stakes are too low. You can't even lose until you bump against the side of the screen, and the main thing working against you is the way the actual edges of the play area aren't where they seem. I've attempted to grab an orb that winked into site along the perimeter, and managed to strike an invisible barrier well shy of the apparent boundary. Game over. I would have been more upset, but it mostly felt like a mercy killing.

While I can't pretend to know what goals the developers actually had in mind when they created Azure Snake, my best guess is that they wanted to create a relaxing, psychedelic time waster that would help soothe frayed nerves, much like a DVD of a fireplace or a CD with the sounds of the ocean might. But if that was their goal, they've missed the mark. I can get considerably more enjoyment and relaxation by spending my time with an aquarium screensaver or a fidget spinner. And certainly I found no entertainment value. I suspect even a three-year-old would get bored of the experience within a few short minutes. There's just not anything here to recommend, nothing that wasn't already done better three decades ago. I suggest skipping it.

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (January 24, 2019)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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hastypixels posted January 26, 2019:

Ow ow ow. That half point can only have been awarded for the fact that it exists. This is certainly one of those nonsensical tail end releases that might not have happened if the Wii weren't at its own EOL. The good news is that so few will know it exists that it won't do any harm to the console or the game it is poorly trailing.

Puns intended.

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