This past April, Owlchemy Labs was set to release Smuggle Truck to the App Store, a game about transporting illegal immigrants across the border in a rusty old pickup truck. Due to Apple's sensitivity to the subject matter, however, what we ended up seeing released was Snuggle Truck [Free/HD], a game about transporting fuzzy stuffed animals across the border into the zoo. While initially being disappointed in the sudden theme switch, I actually found the colorful characters and complete silliness of the premise to be a bigger success than the originally intended idea. And as we noted in our review, Snuggle Truck was so damn fun anyway that the theme really didn't matter much at all.

Now for the first time, the developers of Snuggle Truck are offering both the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad versions of their game for free. While the decision to go free was to get more players trying the game and building their own levels using the excellent built-in level editor that was released in August, Owlchemy Labs does hope to be monetizing this freebie promotion by offering a selection of items in the new in-game DLC store.

First thing to point out is that not everything in the store is paid. All users will be able to download a pack of 5 brand new developer-created levels, and there is an additional 5 pack of new levels available for 99¢ as well. Also, a new time freeze power up is available in the store free of charge. Another new addition to the game is different truck skins. The first is a zoo truck skin that is available for a 99¢ IAP, with more skins planned for the future. You can also buy an augmentation for 99¢ that will make your next 100 power up items last 50% longer, and you can pay $1.99 to unlock all of the original 42 levels immediately rather than through normal game progression.

Finally, if you're just down to throw some money at the developers because you like their game a lot, or if you're the type who likes to have prestigious in-game rewards, their are 3 different developer support IAP options you can buy. For 99¢ you'll get the Indie Supporter badge which is prominently displayed on the main menu so you can prove to all of your friends that you dropped an entire dollar on it. Next is a $4.99 Solid Supporter IAP which gives you an even shinier main menu badge to cherish. Finally, the most interesting option is the $9.99 Hardcore Supporter IAP, which not only gives you the shiniest badge of them all, but you can also email in a photo of the badge to Owlchemy Labs and they will give you some sort of customized gift. What is it? I have no idea, but I'm tempted to buy it just to find out.

While the game being free is exciting and there is a bunch of cool new content in this latest update, it does come with a down side. Snuggle Truck is now ad-supported. If you purchased the game previously then don't fret, your game will remain ad-free. If you're new to the game and are just downloading it since the free promotion, then you'll have to deal with a drop-down ad every few levels or so. It's honestly not that annoying considering how much fun the game is, but tolerance to ads is definitely subjective. If you buy the $4.99 or $9.99 developer support IAP, then you can disable the ads, which is nice but it would have been much nicer if that applied to the 99¢ option as well.

At any rate, it's definitely a good thing for people who haven't tried out Snuggle Truck to be able to grab it for free, and given the new IAP options, it sounds like it will remain free for a while, possibly for good. If you're a previous owner, then definitely grab the new update for the additional levels and DLC options, as well as various other tweaks and enhancements. And don't forget the in-game level editor which has already produced hundreds of user created levels, all sorted by rating and easily accessible within the game. If you're new to Snuggle Truck, now is a great time to finally check it out with the new free ad-supported version.

  • Anonymous

    Not going to pick this one up as fun as it would sound. It sounds like an unfinished/unpolished game in my opinion to suddenly change the theme of your game from one thing to a whole other.

    Like there might be stuff that doesn't look so much like a fun friendly zoo environment but looks more like a mexican desert environment.

    • Joe

      What exactly are you talking about?  The theme change happened because the developers submitted a completed game that was rejected by Apple because of its theme (which was about illegally smuggling immigrants across the border).  So the developers changed the theme from a politically controversial, illegal activity to one that was completely innocuous.  The theme change was not frivolous or flukey or driven by laziness.  It was essentially demanded by Apple.  And so the developers simply changed the cargo in the truck.  This satisfied Apple, who then approved the game.
      The theme change was an issue of politics, not one of quality. 
      And I have no idea what you're talking about with the zoo and the desert.  It takes place in the desert because the setting of the game was along the border region here, which is mostly desert.

  • Anonymous

    If I update the game I paid for will I start getting ads?
    (spoiler: that would suck)

  • Yilmaz Kiymaz

    Hey Jehuva, if you already own the game and had it installed at one point on your device, you won't get ads after updating.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the info!

    • Anonymous

      You don't think that a better idea would have been to maintain two separate entities on the app store; one with ads, one paid?
      Seems to work for most developers, and as long as their development is in sync, I can't see there being a problem (and this is from someone who skips non-universal releases!)
      They can even read each other's data should one upgrade to paid, or have both apps for some other reason.

  • David Howe

    Mad grats to Owlchemy Labs! I missed this game when it was first released, so this is perfect timing for me. Our first game on iOS was a "controversial" game to get folks talking, and it was also denied for similar reasons. Unfortunately for us, changing the theme wouldn't have really worked out. Like Jared, I too think the new theme not only works really well, but it is arguably more hilarious than the original idea.

  • Austin Riddle

    Who misses the old version of this game, that was hilarious!

  • CJ

    I purchased the original game when it was released; now with this new fremium update, I'm being spammed with ads. Not a happy camper.

    • Owlbert Einstein

      If you do an update to the app (aka had it installed on your device prior to going free) it will detect that and remove ads for paid customers.

  • Anonymous

    What I meant when I said, that I thought this was an unfinished and unpolished game was my opinion. And it was my opinion when i said that I wouldn't pay for something like this that's just me so if it offended the poster who responded to me then I don't know what to tell you, besides my opinion is different than yours. For example they wanted it to be immigrants smuggled from one end of the stage to the other but couldn't so instead they change it to animals and to be smuggled to the zoo.

    So far every stage I've played (All Easy & Medium stages) has been set in a desert/forest/cave type background and just feels rushed. Since this game was changed to smuggle animals to the zoo there could have been various different settings/stages per animal.

    Few examples: They could have set cold climate animals in a cold area setting with different types of transportation (Sleds, Snowmobiles). Or hot climate animals in a hot area with for example (Helicopters, Jeeps/Jungle Buggies).