Sneezies (PlayStation Minis) Review – Ah Cute! And Ah Fun!

Sneezies are cute little furry cartoon heads who have somehow managed to become trapped in floating bubbles. Your mission is to free as many of these poor creatures as possible, by bursting their entrapping bubbles. The catch is, you cannot directly pop their bubbles. Instead, you spread a burst of sneezing powder. Placing it couldn’t be much simpler, you simply move the d-pad or nub which controls a little cross-hairs on screen, and when you want to release the powder, you tap X.

This powder bursts in a small radius, causing all entombed Sneezies in its area to sneeze, bursting the bubble, and unleashing another cascade of powder. Which in turn, causes surrounding Sneezies to sneeze, repeating the process. If you placed the initial powder right, you can free most of the Sneezies by one long chain reaction. If you placed it poorly, then you do not free enough of the critters, and you fail.

It’s actually pretty fun, at least at first. After about a dozen levels of doing this, the novelty starts to wear off. Part of the problem is that you only spread one dose of sneezing dust, so basically after that one decision, you are left simply watching the bubbles pop. So you spend more time watching than playing.

It gets more difficult in a few ways. Firstly, the number of Sneezies to be freed increases. At first you are freeing only a handful, later on you are freeing dozens of the bubble encased furballs. As the number increases, and thus there are more Sneezies on the screen, they get smaller and smaller, until finally they are nothing more than tiny blinking eyeballs. Which is kind of creepy, actually.

They also begin to float more rapidly about the screen, as well, which makes the results harder to predict. Sneezies you thought would be in range aren’t, though sometimes a few you didn’t think would be, are. So the results start to feel more and more random, like playing pachinko. Indeed, the randomness is so much that was not until level 38, where I had to free 76 out of 80 Sneezies, that I could not pass a level simply by hitting X in the center of the screen as soon as the level started. Doing that didn’t always work, but more often than not it did.

That actually is the biggest complication, the further you progress, the higher the percentage of the Sneezies you have to free. For instance, on level one, you only have to free 1 of 5 (20%), then it goes up to 4 of 9 (about 45%), and so forth, generally increasing until you have to free almost all of the little monsters. This leaves you less and less margin for error.

There are four different game modes. Classic, Challenge, Easy Mode and Score Ex. Classic mode is where you have to free a number of Sneezies to move on to the next level. If you don’t finish a level, you can simply continue trying until you do. Easy mode is identical, except instead of only having one dose of sneezing powder, you have two, so if you don’t get enough in one drop, you can release another.

In Score Ex, you go through ten levels trying to rack up the largest score. Each Sneezie that pops on a level, scores more and more. So the later levels, which have more Sneezies, count the most.

Challenge requires you to free a certain number of Sneezies, like normal mode, but you are given five doses of sneezing powder. The catch here is that there aren’t enough of them to free in one fell swoop, so you have to do it in waves. After each wave, you get a bonus depending on what percentage of the furballs on screen you free. Freeing 25% will replace the ones you rescue, 50% will add a lot more, and 75% gives you an extra dose of powder.

You can save and resume games in each category. There’s scoreboard, again for each game type, but it only keeps your scores, there is not initial or name entry. So a bit of a downer, if you have more than one person who plays the game, you won’t know whose score is whose. But that’s about the only mar on the polish of this game.  The game modes might not be all that different, or explained very well, but it’s nice they give you different ways to play it.

Graphically, it’s simple but cute. Each level is done on a backdrop that wouldn’t be out of place on the cover of a 1970s fantasy novel (or side of a van for that matter). You could airbrush a unicorn onto it and it would fit perfectly.  Similarly, the Sneezies themselves are pretty cute as they float around on the screen, at least until they get so small you can only make out their eyeballs. It’s got some nice little touches as well, the backdrop lightens up once you have passed the level, the Sneezies have little parachutes so they fall safely.

The sound effects mostly consist of cute little sneeze sounds and popping bubbles. This music is fairly generic and low key, except for one number that reminds me of Maxine Nightengale’s “Right Back Where We Started From“, enough so that it makes me want to sing along.

It’s a fun, casual time killer. It’s not something you would spend playing hours in a row, but if you want to kill a few minutes here or there, it’s a nice little option.  Even though the gameplay isn’t deep, nor does it require skill, it’s strangely addictive, like popping bubble wrap.

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