Snoopy’s Street Fair is both a great freemium game and a perfect use of the Peanuts license
Charlie Brown’s baseball team has just been invited to play a big game in New York City. You’d think they’d be happy, but instead they find themselves scrambling to raise the money needed to get proper team uniforms – and what better way to raise the money than a street fair? Starting with that simple premise, Beeline Interactive has managed to pull together a celebration of Peanuts that social gamers around the world will fall in love with.
From the classic Vince Guaraldi soundtrack to the colourful animations and occasional chimes of the current voice cast, Snoopy’s Street Fair is a title that’s sure to tickle fans of Schulz’ classic creations pink. The basics here are simple enough – players will set up different food stands and attractions, and return after a set amount of time to click on them and collect they’ve earned. They’ll then spend that money to purchase new attractions and food stands – lather, rinse, and repeat.
What makes Snoopy’s Street Fair stand out, however, is the charming details. If you tap on the kiddie pool, you’ll see Snoopy’s little pal Woodstock surface wearing snorkel gear. Frieda asks typically vain questions like “what’s the use of naturally curly hair if no one’s jealous?” Charlie Brown waxes poetic with lines like “nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love,” and “sometimes I lay awake at night and wonder, ‘why me?’ Then a voice answers and says ‘nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.'”
The game’s personality is also found in its collections. As you tap on stands to cash them out, sometimes you’ll get a little bonus item – like a piece of Snoopy’s “Joe Cool” outfit, a trading card depicting the kids as baseball players, or even a classic Peanuts comic strip to read and make you chuckle. That’s right – you can actually read classic Peanuts right in the app!
In addition to the basic “build and collect” freemium gameplay, there are a number of mini-games available to enjoy too. You can help Snoopy make lemonade by juicing lemons, roast marshmallows at scout camp, and mix paints as an artist.
But wait! (he types in his best infomercial TV host voice). There’s more!
One of the neatest little features in Snoopy’s Street Fair is “Snoopy Snaps,” an option that becomes available once you purchase a photo booth that lets you take pictures with Snoopy and the gang via your iDevice’s camera. If you’ve ever wanted to be a part of the Peanuts world, this is the closest you’re ever going to get. There are 10 different images at launch that you can work yourself into, whether it’s getting a kiss from Snoopy, visiting Lucy at her Psychiatrist’s Booth, or trying to kick that darned football.
So with all of this great stuff going for it, you might be wondering why Snoopy’s Street Fair hasn’t earned a perfect score. There are a few reasons, but none larger than the premium currency wall.
Like any freemium game, Snoopy’s Street Fair locks some of its best content away for players who are willing to pay for it or are patient enough to save up the paltry amount of Snoopy Bucks the game hands out. The problem? Snoopy’s Street Fair locks away a lot of its content behind that premium wall. Sure you can set up stands with second tier characters like Violet and Rerun using standard currency, but if you want to add any of the notable Peanuts characters to your fair – Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Pigpen, etc – it’s going to cost you. And even the cheapest of these characters would require you to play for days before you could possibly afford a single one without taking out your wallet. As you get into the higher levels, even second tier characters start costing Snoopy Bucks. In fact of the 18 characters available, only 5 are purchasable with standard currency.
That’s not to say that there aren’t other booths and amusements you can acquire for free, but if you want one that’s manned and adds a Peanuts flavour to the proceedings, you’re going to have to pay. Likewise, only one of Snoopy’s three mini-games is available for free. Decorations too, suffer from this lopsided pricing structure.
There are a few other problems here too, though they’re largely hiccups that we assume will be ironed out in an early update. The game lets you send greeting cards to your friends via Facebook and email, for example, but when you try to share it with a friend on Facebook, you aren’t given the choice of who to send it to or to attach a personalized message. Instead it just goes on your wall as a photo. And when we tried to share our Snoopy Snaps on Facebook, they only showed up half the time. Again though – these seem like simple bugs to iron out, and certainly don’t detract from the overall experience.
As a lifelong Peanuts fan, Snoopy’s Street Fair is exactly what I was hoping for. It’s a great use of the license, a competent freemium game, and offers plenty of terrific little bonuses like unlockable comic strips and Snoopy Snaps. As a consumer, though, I can’t help but feel that their pricing strategy is a little too aggressive. Hopefully as time goes on, we’ll see that dialled back a bit to offer a little more kindness to the gaming public. Even with that, though, it seems pretty clear that Beeline has another hit on their hands. Move over, Smurfs’ Village – there’s a new comic strip classic in town.