Snow Drift


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Rating: 4.6/5 (63 votes)
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PsychotronicSnow DriftI don't know what Nitrome has against penguins, but our little tuxedoed friends really get the raw end of the fish-burger this time. Not only do they get chucked off of icebergs by the hundreds, but some rambunctious foxes are using them as ammunition in a prototype penguin launcher. If you're having trouble visualizing that, it's like a missile launcher, but with penguins. Fiery heat-seeking penguins.

Such is the life of arctic waterfowl in Snow Drift, a refreshingly fast-paced and straightforward platforming adventure from Nitrome, creators of a recent avalanche of Flash games, including Thin Ice, Twang, and Pest Control. Your mission is to guide a smug yeti with gelled hair through 20 levels of icy slopes, lavender skies, and pointy obstacles. Control your yeti with the arrow keys (or WASD for southpaws): [left/right] to walk, [up] to jump, and [down] to slide. Hold the down arrow during a slide to accelerate. The sliding ability is the game's hook, and most levels are designed around it. Just tap the down arrow on an icy surface to begin the slide, and our yeti hero will careen down slopes and plow through threatening creatures unharmed. But be warned — there is no jumping on the heads of your enemies here. Sliding is your only weapon, and it only works on ice. If you encounter a homicidal (yeticidal?) fox standing on snow, you're out of luck. Jump over him and never look back.

The penguins serve as the omnipresent collectible in Snow Drift, like Mario's coins or Sonic's rings, but rather than collecting them, the yeti callously knocks them aside like peeping ten-pins. This simple dynamic says as much about his character as his self-satisfied expression or his adorable toddling walk animation. He's a casual bully out for a good time, barely noticing the victims of his freewheeling rampage. Bravo for anti-heroes.

Analysis: Snow Drift doesn't serve up many surprises. It's a simple platform game with an unusual attack method, and that's about it. The controls are good but not great. The only way to stop sliding is to jump, and that means if there's a penguin missile right above you, and you need to stop yourself from skidding into the drink, well, you're going to take a penguin between the eyes. I wish they had included some bonus collectibles for replay value, as they did in Frost Bite, Hot Air, and many of their other games. There's no particular reward for exploring the more open levels, so the experience can sometimes feel too much like a linear obstacle course. There are also some rare but frustrating collision-detection problems. Once I fell down through a solid platform, and several times I slid too fast into a wall and glitched right through the floor. Thorough play-testing is often Nitrome's weak point.

But their strong points are here in force — detailed and likable pixel artwork, snappy tunes (with the option to turn them off), and a reasonable amount of level variety. The way the main character moves smoothly and easily through his environment makes Snow Drift a pleasure to play. There is nothing wrong with a standard platform game if it is executed well, and Nitrome has executed this one like pros. Well worth a look.

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29 Comments

I must say, I really love this one from Nitrome! Although it's not that much of an original idea, it's a lot of fun and the music is excellent. The visuals, no need to mention that, are beautiful as always.

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very very very minor note... i always thought wsad was for right handers.. since it's the default key setting for pretty much every game made that doesn't use the arrow keys... as a left hander i always rebind my movement keys to ikjl

on topic... very cute game.. i love the old side scrollers...

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I can become especially frustrated with some of Nitrome's games. Headcase, for instance, gave me a bit of the grumpies. However, this game was just some good fun for me, as well as cute. I like it.

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I've recently started to wonder why Jay chose to consistently use his real name around here, rather than picking a pseudonym he liked the best. Then again, I only have his word for it...

But that has nothing to do with this game in particular. The music sounds more like it'd work in a breakout game than this kind of game, but I do detect some riffs from other Nitrome games worked in.

In terms of gameplay, It's generally easier to jump over the foxes than try the "jump & slide on small ice platforms" move the sign suggests. Other than the jumping/sliding problems that pop up every so often (which makes me thankful for the 3 hit points), the game is fun to play when there isn't any real snow outside.

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What is it with Jayisgames and Nitrome? Ok so Nitrome have made some nice games, and yes, cover these, but why cover almost EVERY game Nitrome puts out?

There are plenty of casual game design houses, and Jayisgames doesn't review nearly as much of their work as they do of Nitrome.

Is Nitrome paying some sort of sponsorship? I have no problem with that, but please make it clearer that it's a paid for placement.


[Edit: Nitrome pays us nothing for the reviews we feature. We do, however, receive previews of Nitrome's games ahead of release, which allows us time to play the game and prepare a review. We welcome and encourage other developers to do the same for us.

That being said, Nitrome's games are arguably in a class with the best there is available in terms of free Web-based content, and deserve all the attention we give them. -Jay]

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Aww.... poor little penguins.

What I like about the game:
*Cuddly graphics
*Little details like the yeti's freezing breath and his somersaults when he jumps
*20 levels instead of the usual Nitrome 25.
*the fact that you don't need to hold down while you're sliding

What I don't like so far:
- leaps of faith into unknown terrain/into areas covered by penguin-firing foxes

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I must say, I like this game, even though it is, as mentioned, "standard". The music is good, but not particularly fitting for this kind of game. Fitting for snow, though. And it's funny Gar mentions no snow around, bedcasue yesterday where I am it woudnt stop snowing, lol.

OVerall, 4 out of 5.

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I cannot wait to play this game! I love everything nitrome does.

One thing though, you say nitrome executes this game like pros, which i think makes sense, because aren't they professional game designers?

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Nice game, enjoy playing it :)

Nice reward at the end, and decent 'endslide'

.

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Wistan - I found that the wsad was for lefties when that was the only controls, no mouse, because the arrows are traditionally on the right side of the keyboard (got to love the mixable keyboards!).

Is anyone else having issues getting any of the Nitrome games to load today? I just get a blank and I haven't had an issue with the site before. :( I wanna play *pouts lots*

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After playing this game for a while, i have to say i love it. I think Nitrome excels at platformers, particularly their arrow key based games. Headcase, off the rails, all greta games.

While I was playing it, I was just imagining what would happen if Nitrome came out with some massive game, I'd love to see what they could come up with, also if they did a tower defense game.

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Whoot! Nevermind...turns out that my flash wasn't auto-updating, so with the newest version, no problem. The graphics are adorableas, as Nitrome is known for, it is to be expected.
I agree with Jay about Nitrome being one of the best sites for casual. While a lot of the games are just refabricated games from the past, they are always really cute, and pretty well coded, and thus deserving a regular spot.
And if there are game house you feel aren't being noticed, maybe you should tell JiG about them rather than ranting about how they aren't noticed. I mean, defeats the purpose! *giggles*

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Most of the problems in Snow Drift are solved by having unlimited tries, and the graphics tend to dampen any tedium that comes on by finding out that a jump didn't land you where you wanted to land.

Is that little sound that happens when you jump the crunch of snow underfoot, or a soft grunt from the jumping yeti?

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Scott: It makes sense, but I still thought it was worth mentioning. Some professional web games seem to have been executed by monkeys.

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It's really not all that great of a platformer. Maybe better looking and more smooth than "I wanna be the guy", but it isn't exactly an awesome platformer. I'm tired of Nitrome pumping out games every three days, especially since they're now starting to feel a bit unpolished (the bugs, as well as the near invisible boxes surrounding practically every sprite). I'd rather see them try and create something that takes a long time to do.. perhaps an executable game?

TL;DR: Nitrome needs to take more time to work on their games, and not make a "mini-game" every few days.

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*sigh* The only thing I really liked about this game was the action of sliding around, much like in Thin Ice. But other than that, it's rather mediocre. It's just sort of run, jump, slide, run jump slide. You don't even really need to slide all the time and sometimes it can get you in trouble. Don't really understand the appeal of this one.

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This game was awesome. Actually most Nitrome games are somewhat interesting for the first several levels, but i usually get bored after a bit, but this one kept my attention until the end. As always, Nitrome's tight and responsive controls really make the platforming fun, but for some reason the specific gameplay of sliding and attacking this way just made it so much more fun than most of the other Nitrome games.

plus the yeti is so darn cute.

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I've noticed how the lack of original gameplay mechanics is often pointed out (if not necessarily criticized) when people comment on Nitrome's games. I'd like to say that I don't think originality is a must-have for this type of games. It's great to see someone put out rock-solid 2d platformers. In my opinion there aren't enough of those (much less available for free), and the hype around the next Fancy Pants Adventures is a testament to that.

With that out of the way, I like Snow Drift more than many other Nitrome platformers. The graphics are at their usual high production standards, but they go beyond some of their older candy-colored offerings by being beautifully moody (and I think seasonally theming their games is a great strategy as well).

On top of that, I really like the game's difficulty curve. I often felt that Nitrome's games start with tutorials that are too long and then get pretty difficult fast. No matter how good it is, I'm not going to die in a level-based Flash game more than a couple of times before deciding that I've seen all that I'm interested in and waiting for the next one to come along. Although it's true that the levels are a bit linear, I think Snow Drift nailed this aspect. I've played it longer than most of Nitrome's games.

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There is a number of things that Nitrome has improved over earlier games. Yes, the difficulty curve is one of those things. Another one is the fact that additional, new monsters await you in the later levels (instead of giving them all away in the first ten). There are goodies that replenish your health, and now they are also in places where you actually have some use for them (i.e. not immediately at the beinning of the level).

Still, I often felt I was just labouring through long or very long levels to finally reach the ending. There is hardly a reward that awaits you in the course of those twenty levels apart from the message "Level XY complete" and the occasional "Look, a penguin-grenade-throwing icebear/a fire-breathing walrus". The second half of level 20 is great and something everyone who played the game to that point has hoped for, but I also suggest two things to make the gemeplay more satisfying overall:
*implement permanent power-ups that make you faster/jump higher etc. and that can be found in one or two places in the middle levels; and
*maybe two or three end-level bosses.
For me, that would produce a feeling of achievement not only at the end of the game, but also in the course of it.

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With PC games, the historical default has been arrow keys for movement. Pre-PC (or specifically, pre PC standard keyboard), there was no fixed standard, although I recall both HJKL (UNIX games) and IJKM (Apple games) being popular. When I was coding games, I always preferred the comfortable QAOP for movement, which nowadays seems very unorthodox with its use of different hands for up/down and left/right. The thing to remember about early '80s action games, however, is that most of them featured movement and very little else - four keys and your thumb on the spacebar as an action trigger was all you ever needed.

The development of WASD for directional control seems to be in response to the growing prevalence of console game control systems, where movement tends to be directed by the left hand. I guess that's the cultural norm as of now. Does this date back to the layout of the NES controller? Let's not even get started on old-school joysticks - sure, they were supposed to be used with their suction cups stuck to a table, but when did that ever happen? No, they were always a case of right-handed movement for righties, and left-handed movement for lefties, and button placement be damned.

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This game reminded me of that ancient Mario vs Sonic argument. Mario (and similar platformers) were a little bit more skill-based, composed with transparent (if difficult) challenges, while Sonic gave a frantic, speedy experience with little actual platforming and a LOT of blind jumping/running/falling into unknown territory.

Personally, I've always preferred Mario-like games. This one, unfortunately, feels too much like Sonic - it's fast, it's fun, but it isn't really what I'd call a "classic" platformer.

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Oh, and one more note about Nitrome games in general.

As much as I applaud Nitrome's high production values and unquestionable high standards when it comes to graphics, sound and gameplay in general, I find their games suspicuosly lacking..well.. something.

Perhaps it's the same old interface and style their every game has, perhaps a severe lack of those small things that make a game great - a feeling of discovery, surprise or some sort of actual reward after beating a certain challenge. I've never felt a need to play "just one more try" with a Nitrome game, or a need to finish all the levels - as a result, most of their games are, at least to me, instantly forgettable. The only exception to that rule are the two Hot Air games, which I must admit I enjoyed immensely, and still like to re-play them from time to time.

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Shortcut in level 7:

After the part where you go uphill and there are spikes, you reach a flat snow platform, with an ice slide and a king penguin right under it. Run to the very end of the snow platform towards the right and jump at the last second, you should land on top of the grey blocks. From there, go left and try to jump past the spikes even though you can't see then. The exit isn't too far from there.

Hope it helps.

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Visitor June 28, 2008 8:14 AM

Snow Drift, believe it or don't, was the first Nitrome game I played. Off the Rails was second.
I used to play it on Miniclip, before I clicked the Nitrome logo at the start. This was when Go Go UFO was released. Nitrome is even better than Agame and Miniclip.

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I am on lvl 17 i am really stuck i keep on dieing. but one thing i LOVE is the music its so catchy i love it so much

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Oh and i was reading some of your peoples comments it made me annoyed. Okay we get there are critics here that would rather trash a game then just finding a new one!

p.s. The Yeti is adorable and i cant get past the whale thingy it is VERY annoying

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Snow Drift is a fascinatingly simply and fast-paced platformer featuring an all too cute and furry snow-beast. Rolling through the levels of icy winter was very entertaining, especially when recklessly rushing down slopes. While the soundtrack doesn't quite hit the spot, the graphics are amazingly cute. Snow Drift isn't greatly difficult; the difficulty curve is perfect. There are also a few new and exciting elements to the game.

Snow Drift is, however, in need of a bit of polishing. When sliding on ice, you either have to jump, wait for the yeti to completely stop, or slide off the ice surface to retain normal stature. There are a few other minor glitches.

That forgotten, Snow Drift is a simply delightful breath of fresh Christmas air.

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funlerz June 9, 2009 10:38 AM

I am right-handed and I use WASD, it is easier then using the arrow keys, cause when I have to use the mouse it gets annoying using arrow keys and the mouse, since I cant use my left hand for the mouse obviously, and if some is left-handed, like my dad, he uses arrow keys since he uses his left hand for the mouse, I never could figure out why everyone says the arrow keys are always used by right-handed people when it is so much easier using WASD, whenever I program a game (I do it as a habit) I program WASD in first so that I can use those to test the game, then add in the arrow keys

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Nitrome games always have the best music. And this is no exception.

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