Hey big reader people, it’s finally time for me to play games again.. and I played a very special game for Halloween. A pokémon game that is set in Hoenn… that has suffered through a zombie apocalypse. Along the way not only do you fight zombies and zombie pokémon but ghosts and demons as well. So I prepared for horror .. but nothing prepared me for Pokémon Snakewood.
Pokémon Snakewood starts out promising. Your character wakes up with no memories in a completely destroyed Littleroot Town. Among the wreckage of Professor Birch lab, you find three pokéballs. A Koffing, A Baltoy or a Paras, I knew this game was about zombies so I thought.. they are probably using poison thingies a lot! Let’s pick Koffing! I named it Orby back then.. but later on I would rename it Chokes. Apparently I play the younger sister of Brandon…but he is named Landon here. The game is set just a few years after his winning the pokémon league. Landon has vanished alongside his girlfriend May (awww I am so glad they got together) and it’s up to you the protagonist to find him again, assisted by professor Birch who wants his daughter back safe. Landon being the champion can surely help against his invasion of the undead. Along the way the protagonist finds out they have a much bigger role to play in this story as they originally thought.
Now this in theory would sound like a story I can get behind, unfortunately after reaching Rustboro town, the original location of the first gym, the story starts to fall apart. It’s still okay by then.. but the first cracks begin to show. The Romhacker Cutlerine uses a lot of humor and fourth wall breaks , which is honestly something I normally love. The plot has a lot of random elements and Seth-MacFarlane-esque humor and storytelling. Again these are things I kinda love! This is coming from a girl who had a good time with A Million Ways to die in the West. While inspired by McFarlane Cutlerine misses two crucial elements to the golden formula. Restraint and timing. The plot of Snakewood is atrociously bad, filled with very obscure references weird in jokes and poorly timed twists. Basically you have an Ally for one or two cities , after which they stab you in the back, and this loops over and over again. The zombie killing guy?! (While obvious) He’s an enemy.. those who convince you he is a bad guy.. they throw you under a bus, then you find yet another party.. but find out they can’t help that much.. after which you find out that enemy you had on Dewford Island.. no that’s a friend! A good plot twist isn’t bad here and there.. but here it happens in every town give or take. In the end we end up with people frozen into a carbonite chamber, while the evil guy bakes you a cake.. totally destroying the world, after which you have to defeat him with the power of Haiku and References end it ends with a party in your honour.. that gets skipped for some limp endgame content.
If written with timing and restraint this could have worked still but instead this all is resolved through fourth wall breaks. ‘Oh they are frozen in carbonite looks like Cuterline isn’t even trying anymore’ ‘Oh this happens, that sure is convenient to the plot’. The main character is aware of the bad story and comments on it, which can at times be funny but at the same time the story has no narrative impact as there is no logic connected to how the plot will go. You even face the Elite four somewhere in the first half of the final act. There is a very big chunk of the game left after that, and that bit seems to fizzle out quite badly.
Technically this game doesn’t far much better, the female protagonist sprite glitches constantly, turning from a normal human into a pale grey, or sometimes even other shades. When diving the sprite of May and not the protagonist is there. It makes the game feel sloppy. While I give the hacker credit for creating a lot of custom maps, with some of them being neat improvements.. others feel lackluster, usually in the more optional parts. We encounter stuff like invisible walls , which sometime are there as part of a puzzle but sometimes are just there for cutting you off and sometimes even exist as glitches. at totally random spots that aren’t hidden items. It just feels so sloppy, and I know fangames and rom hacks are prone to this but I am not comparing it to the main titles I am comparing this to other hacks and these errors are way more present than in for example Pokémon Sweet Version or Pokémon Clover.
There is little new sound design, which is detrimental to the tone of the game again. A destroyed Littleroot town should not have the Littleroot town theme, while it is hard to implement this .. again other Rom Hacks have managed to do so and this one could have benefitted from it a lot. In the last part of the game there is some swap arounds but never truly great. I ended up muting the music in the end , but more on that when we discuss the gameplay. Sound design is not bad as in it’s not entirely detrimental to the experience nor does it glitch or is ugly but it is very clear the team of the Cutlerine lacked a sound designer making the hack feel more amateurish. Nothing to bad but I’ve seen a lot better .. and just adding some horror music would have done sooo much for this game.
The game also has some Fakemon , custom made pokémon and some are actually great. The zombified pokémon all look great. Yuck.. the pokémon that looks like Muk.. but swallowing a little child was absolutely amazing. The reskins of the kantonian starters.. excellent work. Latios and Latias stitched together bravo. These are really well done.
Then they decided to add in their own custom pokémon and they all look horrible. Like absolutely horrible. I can not do better because I am not a drawing person, but I could conceptualise cooler ones and get an artist to make some well within the time that it took me to finish this game. Nearly 50% of it is like a singularly shape pokemon.. like a rock.. or most commonly circles or an egg. Evolutions are quite lazily designed though compliments to Dragooon and Diamantix , respectively evolutions of Linoone and Steelix.. the sprites look like doodoo but at least conceptually you can sorta make out what they were going for which seemed interesting.. but otherwise most of their pokemon evolve by changing colour.. or becoming a circle. Bleh.
All in all we don’t have a very solid game just yet.. but it is an intriguing one so maybe some good gameplay can rescue it?! I can quite honestly say that gameplay wise this is the single most AWFUL pokémon game I EVER played. It’s honestly quite atrocious. Once again the first third of the game feels solid enough. Challenging as but solid. I made the mistake of starting with a skitty as my second pokémon, I had to trade that in fairly quickly when I found a makuhita. The pokémon battle gameplay is solid throughout the first half of the game. Puzzles however are broken from the very first moment we encounter them. They are .. again Family Guy inspired or something .. because they are completely random.
Example one : ‘I invaded an enemy based and the floor is laced with pressure sensors.. meaning if you step onto the wrong tile, you get reset back to the beginning of this area’ Now this would be manageable, because you only have three options every time, so for about 10 to 20 tiles of traversal this is doable. However this game decided it was FUNNY to stretch it out for over at about 90 or so tiles. With characters that you have to use (south straight from the last in a gauntlet of them) to navigate.. glitching in and out of existence, this process is truly hellish.
Example 2: A series of completely random, unanswerable questions (Is fire better than octopus?) wil reset you back to the entire line of questions for every wrong answer. About 30 gates that on first try have about a 50/50 chance to reset your progress. Of course after which you get a reward chest…. that resets you anyway so you also have to know to skip that. Powering an elevator.. can’t use your electric pokémon for that.. you have to catch a very specific one that can be found inside this dungeon, track back (As by now you will have 6 pokémon) get that pokemon out of the pc.. to power the elevator.. .. catch a ditto so that it can turn into a key.. which afterwards it never can anymore. This would even be okay if you did not already visit this dungeon once where the puzzle solution was a simple item hunt thus forcing you into that mindset. Finally there is also a very particular teleporter puzzle, that if you choose wrong.. will put you in a no win scenario fight..unless you cheated by then.. which losing will put you outside the entire dungeon. And yes.. it’s that 70 tile memory game one where this occurs.
Being a rom hack this game is meant to be emulated and sped up, save states made to clear these puzzles and so on. The puzzles are virtually impossible otherwise. Never did I have to look up a walkthrough on a pokémon game nor hack to progress through the game as my goal always made sense to me.. here I had to look it up 7 times. There is a part where you have to find a Hard Rock CD and put it on a stone.. of course the only place to find this cd is on a Rock Lobster.. that is hiding out in a SINGLE dive tile, no where near the area I need to be in. And this is MISSABLE! If you killed the Rock Lobster.. as far as my research goes.. you can not truely finish the game, even if this is technically endgame. Other story mandatory puzzles involve talking to a random girl to give you an item, flying to another town to get some food, Red Stew and feed it to a mirror.. because something something bible reference. It doesn’t even tell you , you need to find the Red Stew,having it in your inventory will cause one of the dialogue options to have a different outcome, so you cant even deduce you are actually missing an item. There is a joke inside there somewhere but if you don’t get it.. you do not get the puzzle.
Finally there is the battling and the grind… oh dear Arceus the grind. Endgame requires your pokemon to be somewhere in the level 75 area. Using speed up to level I clocked about 120 hours to finish this game. Which means that is about 120 hours worth of grinding.
And I haven’t even leveled much more than my actual chosen 6.. I could have picked up some stronger pokémon with a guide and used legendaries.. but I wanted to see if this could be done with regulars.. and one legendary because I worked very hard on that. Early in the game you get an egg… it hatches into a MYSTERYEGG, .. which is an egg.. i figured a legendary would be in here.. so i leveled it up until it evolved into SECRETEGG.. I was close to making it evolve just one more stage.. and it evolved into HYPEREGG. Never has a pokemon been able to evolve beyond their second evolution stage.. but HYPEREGG can, I found out by accident because yet again.. trainers intuition would tell you.. this is it. Most pokémon you are handed are sub par to deal with the enemies completely overpowered beasts… there even is a lvl 100 Kamina (yes the one from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) and a lvl 65 , non 1 hp , wonder guard pokemon that I could only hit with toxic. It just made every minute of the second half of this game feel so tedious and frustrating..I wanted to pull my hair out and banish this game to my trash can. Yet I wanted to beat it and I did… and I was rewarded with nothing… no credits.. no nothing.. my char wants to discover herself still.. but that I did before the rest.. so I never really got any payoff.
I am so salty right now.. that the game ended like that… I put in the time and the work and got nothing in return.. so my judgement is very biassed. Did I objectively enjoy this game? No.. but the first half was kinda nice just glitchy.. the second half was hell. There is way too much insider humor in it , including an entire act based around what I would assume is another game they made, that sounds kinda like a mix between Devil Survivor 2 and Digimon, the references are often to obscure.. like who of us has read the book of Genesis? I sure did not! While it has potential it also manages to strangle that same potential completely by catering to a very specific group of people throughout the entire hack, essentially nullifying their biggest boon, their humor only leaving the cool zombie theme as their other.. and who wants to play a zombie game that ends up with Carbonite trapped prisoners and Haiku rap battle final encounters… I am pretty sure it’s no one…and that is the same amount of people I would recommend this game too.
While this rom enjoys some popularity, that seems to stem from the first half of the game.. which is good and worth a look, however as soon as Mauville city is passed this game plummets like a brick into my most hated game so far. I even had to stop playing multiple times in order to collect myself so I could finish it another day. Be smart and stay clear of this one, at least if you are looking for an actually decent game..for the Family Guy experience go ahead… but just watch Family Guy.
The Pinkest Poké Blogger is blasting off again!