When we think of mobile games now, it’s usually either about mega hits like Angry Birds or it’s the games that push the limits of mobile hardware to its peak like Infinity Blade. It wasn’t so long ago that “mobile gaming” was defined by a length of blocky pixels running into smaller, stationary pixels. If you showed Snake to kids who have grown up grabbing their parents phone and pulling up a game, they’d likely wonder how we didn’t all die of boredom. Nimble Quest might be the best link to those days that modern mobile gaming will see.
Don’t let the stylized, 16-bit style graphics, unique environments, and an impressive musical score fool you; Nimble Quest is an absolute homage to Snake, a game that consisted of beeps for sound effects and rewarded you with slightly higher pitch beeps when you would set a high score. Players take control of a hero whom is sent out into the world to battle against the likes of evil in the forms of skeletons and spiders among many others. To defeat these foes, you’ll of course have to engage in combat with them (what, did you think you’d just talk them out of attacking?). But all of the actual attacking is automated for you. Instead, it’s your task to keep your character from running into any obstacles and make sure you’re in range to deliver some punishing blows to your enemies.
Movement is completed with swipes in the direction you’d like to turn. Your characters are self-propelled, always moving, and awaiting your instruction so they may navigate the chaos. Like your standard game of Snake, things start off simply enough and then action gets more and more intense as the game moves along. As you continue to navigate levels and dismantle enemy forces, you’ll gain party members that will join you in your combative quest. They may bring a new attack to to the arena depending on their class. Mages and archers can hit from range while knights swing up close, for example. There are fifteen different characters in all that can join your squad. You’ll earn them on the battlefield, or you can stack your team with an in-app purchase for $2 a pop.
Because Nimble Quest is built on the premise of Snake, it penalizes you like Snake, too. That means when you die, you start over. Simply running into a wall won’t wipe you out, but having the health drained on all your characters will. When it happens, it’s back to level one. This is a harsh penalty, but it’s true to form for the game that Nimble Quest calls its foundation. It is avoidable, though, by purchasing continues with in game coins. The coins are earned during your play through or can be purchased in packs with real cash. Buying items definitely isn’t from the original Snake.
If there’s one area that Nimble Quest doesn’t quite live up to expectations, it’s in the upgrade system. Though the controls and navigation gameplay are from Snake, the overlay of the Nimble Quest universe is an old-school style RPG and an important part of any RPG is making your characters as powerful as can be. To do that here requires either tons of grinding or ponying up some actual cash. The effects of character upgrades seem rather minimal, too, which is disappointing, especially considering how difficult those upgrades are to acquire by just playing the game over and over and not dropping real life coin on it. Seems like the changes should be more tangible.
If there are two styles of games that any game lover growing up in the 90’s will immediately recognize and likely find addicting, it would be Snake and the party-based RPG. Combining the two seems like a very odd decision and a mostly non-sensical mash-up. But, as it turns out, NimbleBit is a successful mobile game developer for a reason. It knows exactly what it’s doing.
Nimble Quest gives Snake a re-birth it very much deserves and delivers it in a way that will appeal to gamers new and old. It can get a little grind-heavy, but you’ll be addicted to playing anyway, so what do you care?