Snuggle Truck [$1.99/HD] was supposed to be a game about driving a truck overflowing with illegal immigrants to a border. Its hook revolved around the fact that the physics-enabled immigrants sit an open pickup truck bed. So, whenever you lost control on a bump or a jump, there was a good chance that immigrants could go flying out of said cage. The end goal was to try to get as many people as you can to the end point.

Quite a few people felt it was an insensitive and juvenile idea, but fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) all of that content has since been stripped and replaced with escaped cartoon animals. I bring up the history simply because Snuggle Truck feels like a game that had its vision stripped: cartoon animals are great and all, but the environments and mechanics built up around the cargo are of another tone and style; the pieces just don't fit together so well.

The good news is that the mechanics are solid, there is depth in terms of content, and the execution is superb. I wouldn’t call this one a “thrill ride,” but Snuggle Truck can be your burst game, that title you play when you’ve got three minutes to spare.

It’s hard to just peg Snuggle Truck in a genre. I call it a side-scrolling racing game and then toss in the caveat that it’s highly physics-based. In the game, you control a dirty truck that can be highly reactive to the terrain its meets -- the smallest dips and jumps cause the truck to lean back and forth. You can correct its arc with the tilt, but you don’t do it for the safety of the vehicle -- you get lined up to protect the cargo, those cartoon animals riding in the back. Each animal is just as reactive to the truck’s trajectory, and the point is to hit the end point as quickly as possible with as many animals as possible. Easier said than done, I've learned. The truck, again, is highly reactive.

There’s a lot of stuff that can get in your way in the process of getting to the end goal, the "zoo": there’s an assortment of bumps, massive hills, dips, and even a few surprise environmental objects like explosive crates that get thrown into the mix in later levels. For the most part, Owlchemy Labs does a fantastic job providing change of pace opportunities: there’s a ton of different layouts and jumps experimented with, which give you plenty to do and think about.

Hitting and landing a jump without losing your animal dudes is all in the wrist and in the finger. You can tilt your device to correct the trajectory and also use the basic movement mechanic -- pressing your fingers on either the left or the right of the screen -- to slow or speed up your truck. The main problem I have with Snuggle Truck lies here, though: in the process of moving the truck, the way I hold my phone causes my thumbs to be all over the pieces of the environment that you need to avoid or jump over. Since the game uses the whole screen split in half to control it, you can just use the top two corners to control the truck and hardly block anything, but that just doesn't feel natural to me. This issue is much less prevalent on the larger screen of the iPad, however.

Snuggle Truck introduces one new mechanic at a time, giving you the ability to slowly learn and react to obstacles as you progress through the levels. But there’s a big trial-and-error element as well since you never know what’s around the bend. One small jump, for example, can take you straight into a wall while another of the same exact kind might not present any mission critical navigational issues.

To its credit, Snuggle Truck remains fun despite its clumps of middling level design. I chock this up to its relative snappiness -- levels take, generally, under a minute to finish, so it’s not a great loss to start over again. Nor do you really need to ace a level since there’s so many in each tier.

Of course, there are carrots on sticks to chase -- Snuggle Truck goes heavy on the rewards after completion of each level. You can earn your traditional star medals, as well as completion medals based on completion and number of animals you save.

To progress to a different tier you’ll need a pre-defined set of medals, but you can just float through the content without a care. In the app world, I find this priceless since I rarely have the time at a bus stop or whatever to really grind out perks. But if you want to be a collector type of dude, you can totally go nuts with this one: there’s a lot of side stuff to earn in each level. Sick it, achievement hounds.

So, anyway, while Snuggle Truck actually feels like a game that went one direction and then the other, I recommend it. The truck controls well, the physics respond well, and the level design has that right mix of snappiness and intrigue. Check it out if you’re in the market for another racing side-scroller, and keep your eyes peeled for updates. Owlchemy Labs has crazy plans for Smuggle Truck which include implementing community-generated levels which could lead to some awesome replay value.

App Store Links:

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://profiles.google.com/ggallmygamez gamer gamer

    "Snuggle" truck?
    FACEPALM.
    http://nooooooooooooooo.com/

    • Swishinj

      Yes. We can play Grand Theft Auto where we can murder, carjack, steal, do drugs, sell drugs, smuggle drugs, rape, have sex with a prositute, kill cops, and do many other bad *fun* things, but we can't smuggle mexicans across the border?

  • http://twitter.com/HafizTargaryen Hafiz Tajuddin

    Y'know it could have still been smuggle truck. Just not humans we'd be smuggling. Drugs are also out...how about contraband? Pirated DVDs or Videog-oh. Okay, how about endangered species? Giant Pandas and the like. Or go absurdist and smuggle in State Senators or something.

    • Mike

      I think they should have left it the way it was intended - smuggling illegal aliens (not "immigrants" btw). People are so sensitive. I mean who is really going to be offended? The people that are breaking the law by sneaking across the border of a country? Gee, so sorry!

      • http://twitter.com/ScottColbert Scott Colbert

        Racist much?

      • Voice

        ??? What, exactly did you find "racist" in Mike's comment? If someone is being sneaked across the border, they certainly aren't "immigrants". (Immigration is a *legal* process by which someone enters a country with the intent of living there long term, usually with the goal of becoming a citizen in the process.)

      • Royce

        Immigration is not a legal process, it is just the movement of people from a place of origin to a new place. Illegal immigrants are still immigrants. And people should consider themselves lucky these immigrants don't use the same tactics that the original European immigrants to the US used, those tactics being murder and the intentional spreading of disease among the existing population.

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/HR3TJBH4DKDZ247EQXTF3YG4NQ Montgomery

        Problem of your own making. They used to have worker Visas in the US, and even Utah voted to bring them back. So yes - you're a racist teabagger scum. Birther much?

      • dude

        Nice to see you are following the Dear Leader's advice on civil debate!Check out Mexico's immigration rules to see some draconian law.Then their President has the gall to lecture us about how we should not enforce our own.
        Immigration law needs to be changed and enforced.If quotas need to be raised then lets have that debate and enforce the result.Without the rule of law we are nothing.

        And according to news reports "immigrant right groups"were the most vocal opponents of this game.Touch arcade owes many of it's readers an apology.

        I do understand your anger though.The last election was nothing compared to the next one.Obama and company have killed the Democratic party for a generation.Sucks to be you.

      • CptZEEP

        Enjoy giving your parents loans when their medicare is destroyed. You deserve it.

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/HR3TJBH4DKDZ247EQXTF3YG4NQ Montgomery

        Problem of your own making. They used to have worker Visas in the US, and even Utah voted to bring them back. So yes - you're a racist teabagger scum. Birther much?

      • Anonymous

        Smuggling in martians would have been great.

  • http://twitter.com/nrathaus Noam Rathaus

    If I were the authors I would go with white iPods/iPads/iPhones being smuggled from Hong Kong? :)

  • MoHeyNow

    I think the title/theme change decision was a classy & witty one on behalf of the devs who were (dare I say, unjustly) left with little choice but to roll with the punches and I think they left all the important stuff untouched anyway. Well done.

  • Bob

    I can't believe they changed the name. That was what made the game unique and hilarious is watching those crazy mexicans flying out of the truck! Where the hell are people's balls nowadays?

  • http://www.magento-themes.jextn.com/ Magento Themes

    I like this review over the snuggle truck..
    Snuggle Truck was supposed to be a game about driving a truck overflowing with illegal immigrants to a border.nice article.thanks for this great blog

  • Coolbam13

    ok now the game is just stupid. "smuggle" truck ftw :)

  • dude

    Wow.Good taste wins for a change.Of course the cynical will say this was planned all along.

  • GUEST

    Seems like they had to change the name because Apple didnt approve of Smuggle Truck. FAIL.

  • Jeff

    Guess I will be passing on this game...Snuggle Truck..Really??? I was excited with all the coverage the original game got, but not it's just not interesting.

  • Darkestafro

    F..ck this. I want the real smuggle truck. Sorry devs you just lost a potential customer.

    • Ron

      Yeah and you gained three because I'm buying this game 3 times n ow :-)

      • Darkestafro

        i would giftet the "original" game at least 5 times. But i dont like selfcensorship.

      • Ron

        Well i gifted this one to 10 friends and family, it's such a good game. It's not called self-censorship when you think before you speak. "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." -Abraham Lincoln

  • Cougarcat

    If you want to play the original, the PC/Mac version is untouched. You can even swap between versions on the fly.

    I think it's sad that Apple will not allow satirical games on iOS. But look at it this way––by rebranding their app like this, it adds another layer of satire to the game, that of Apple's approval process itself.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/HR3TJBH4DKDZ247EQXTF3YG4NQ Montgomery

    Here in Arizona, we have lots of attempts end up dying in the desert trying to walk here. Can you make a snuggly game that includes mummified carcasses and dying kids too?

    What - isn't that funny and ironic too?

    I want dead mexican babies on my iPad! GET IT TOGETHER!

    • Purplemonkeyspank

      Think someone needs to get off their high horse and wind their neck in. It's politically correct muppets like you sucking the fun out of everything these days. Over analysing and critising stuff you probably know nothing about. But hey, congrats on being an uptight funsponge. Good on ya. Does your moral ego feel better now? Huh, lil guy? Aw, bless your little cotton socks

      • Ron

        Yeah and the muppets who use words like politically correct when they have no idea what they are talking about O.O Yeah must be nice being on your high horse disproving ideas because of people supposedly being on a high horse. How about you attach what he said and not who he is? What your doing it's called a straw man attack, which automatically is discredited because it is not logical...

      • Purplemonkeyspank

        LOL! Sorry, but that was the soppiest thing I've ever read. Nice one. Needed a laugh ;) Amazing how none of that was related to my reply to geek above apart from the "politically correct" and "high horse" bits though. Do you feel better about your self now? Is your life goal now fulfilled?

      • Ron

        Your reply was nothing more than a lame personal attack :-/ I would say go to school, but I doubt you'll get much out of it. Next time ill send you a drawing, hopefully your pee brain can understand that haha

    • http://profiles.google.com/ggallmygamez gamer gamer

      And thus continues the further pussification of the United States.

      • Gabe

        I like pussy

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/HR3TJBH4DKDZ247EQXTF3YG4NQ Montgomery

        So do I and obviously we know now which way Gamer swings, and I support his coming out - it's brave and shows us courage. We all can take a lesson from Gamer, and we salute him and his community as they fight for the right to marry and serve in our armed forces.

      • Anonymous

        You mad, bro? Don't be so sensitive. Monty.

  • Aros2k

    Dissapointing. Avoiding a purchase of this because of the name change.

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    well the game certain has got more than its fair share of press coverage.

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