Snowball Run is an arcade-style
game where you guide a happy little penguin, precariously balanced on a large snowball,
through a variety of obstacles on his way through the goal. Imagine yourself trying
to balance on a snowball and roll it around and you have some idea of how the game
The game clearly employs some kind of physics model; the faster the penguin is rolling
forward, the less responsive he is to lateral (left/right) moves. However, the little
guy has some powerful legs, since he can go upwards of 100 mph on the straightaways.
Achieving precision control, as required in some levels, is extremely tricky.
Control is through the arrow keys on the keyboard (up = forward; down = stop; left/right
= turn), although the mouse or game pad can be used. I found the mouse unsatisfactory,
because there was no visual feedback on how the game interpreted the mouse motion
(is the mouse moving forward, turning, or slowing down?). The arrow keys can also
be frustrating, because they don't provide fine-grained control. I did try a game
pad with the four directions mapped to the arrow keys, but I didn't try it in mouse
The game includes a tutorial level that illustrates the basic facets of the game,
and beginner, intermediate, and advanced modes. It is necessary to complete the beginner
levels before the intermediate mode is unlocked; similarly advanced is only available
after intermediate has been conquered. In total, there are 75 levels.
Each level consists of a track suspended in air. The penguin starts at one end and
there is a goal gate at the other. In between are a variety of hills, jumps, holes,
turns, and obstacles. Some tracks have a railing around them (although with enough
speed it is easy to jump the rail), but most do not. Each level also has a timer
associated with it; the faster you complete the level, the higher your score. But
take too long and the penguin's snowball melts, costing you one of your "lives".
It is probably worth noting that in this family-friendly game the penguin never dies.
He has a parachute that he deploys if you succeed in rolling him off the edge of
the track. A game consists of three "lives", although additional lives
can be earned by collecting fish that are littered across the tracks.
There is no "jump-to-level" feature, so you must conquer each mode at one
sitting. Fortunately, when your game is over, you are given the option to continue
from the level you were working on. Otherwise, the game would be unpleasantly tedious.
A "jump-to-level" feature would also be helpful for working on a particular
level that is exceptionally difficult.
This is a classic arcade-style game, requiring eye/hand coordination. Some of the
levels are quite enjoyable, others are extremely frustrating. The game must be played
through sequentially; being unable to resume the game at a higher level can be annoying.
The controls are simple (my 5-year-old daughter enjoys the tutorial levels, although
she likes to send the penguin flying over the edge as much as making it through the
goal). Having played the game through to completion, I am unlikely to come back to
- Easy to comprehend,
- High-quality graphics
- Variety of puzzle
- 75 levels, 3 difficulty
- Game controls lack
- No "jump-to-level"
out of 5 Mice