In a backwards sort of way, having your existence tied to a movie is quite a liberating experience for a game. Due to a long and chequered history of tie-ins, public expectations are always going to be low, and you can count on some sales due to the exposure your source material is getting. If it’s family/child oriented, then even better, because your target audience isn’t going to flip out if your game isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. With that in mind, most movie tie-ins don’t have to be spectacular, they just have to work. Snoopy’s Grand Adventure, linked as it is to the recently released Peanuts movie certainly works, and is a nicely streamlined experience that neither demands nor offers much when you have a controller in your hand. Maybe that’s enough.
There seems to be little in the way of a genuine link with the story of the Peanuts movie here, and the narrative is essentially non-existent. In one of the game’s two cutscenes, Charlie Brown and co. walk off without Snoopy, and leave a trail of jelly beans behind for him to hoover up. Through the course of 6 themed worlds, you’ll jump your way through four levels filled with 300 jelly beans along with six lost members of Snoopy’s own Beagle Scouts dotted around the colourful landscape before fighting a loosely-themed boss. There’s the odd Peanuts reference; the game drip-feeds you costumes from Snoopy’s past which are key to fully completing levels through replays (if such a thing tickles your fancy), and the Red Baron levels that take place on your trusty red kennel doubling as a fighter plane are nicely nostalgic, but to call this a proper Snoopy game would be a brash overstatement, purely because save for the characters dotted about the game, the levels don’t look a thing like the world that he inhabits. For instance, a music themed level for piano-bound Linus makes sense, in theory, but the executed style doesn’t really fit with the Peanuts universe.
Still, as a platformer, the game is competent enough mechanically, even if it doesn’t excel. Jumping can be imprecise, with a less than satisfying clunk to it, and the framerate stutters badly when activating some of the powers that come with changing Snoopy’s costumes, but it’s simple to pick up. You’re never too far away from a random enemy, and they can only be attacked by jumping on their noggins to stun them, so get used to the sight of downed foes jumping back up periodically. That appears to have been judged as a more age-appropriate decision for combat for the game’s target audience, which is odd when disappearing in a puff of smoke would probably be more child-friendly than encouraging players to cause repeated and serious cranial/neck damage to the many foes you meet, but there we go.
Then again, what do I know? My three-year old was captivated when we gave it a prolonged spin, proclaiming it to be the best game ever, and even her penchant for hyperbole can’t disguise the fact that Snoopy’s Grand Adventure succeeds where it counts. It’s colourful, visually varied and doesn’t pose much of a challenge. Sure, you don’t have to scratch too deeply to reveal the sort of issues that adult gamers refuse to accept without offering a good whinge, but if you’re playing Snoopy’s Grand Adventure as a grown up expecting a fully fleshed-out, top-end quality experience, then you’re on a hiding to nothing. For what it’s worth, it’s a fun game to play with your family. And that’s all it needs to be.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 5/10 Format: PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / Nintendo Wii U / PC Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a copy of Snoopy’s Grand Adventure for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 5 days. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.