This time last year, we were getting excited about the imminent airing on TV of The Snowman and the Snowdog – a long-awaited follow-up to the Christmas classic The Snowman.
There was an app for that, but now in December 2013, there’s a second one. Broadcaster Channel 4 released The Snowman and The Snowdog Game this morning for iPhone, iPad, and Android.
In one sense, it’s like the first game: you play the snowman (and his friend, the boy) as they fly across the UK towards the North Pole, taking in landmarks like the Houses of Parliament, Stonehenge, Blackpool Tower, the Angel of the North and Edinburgh Castle.
The gameplay is most reminiscent of the Temple Run games – an “endless runner” (except with flying instead of running!) where you swipe on the screen to dodge obstacles.
As you go, you collect snowflakes by running into them, and there are power-ups to help. When you see the snowdog, if you swoop over him he’ll run ahead picking up snowflakes. There’s also a motorbike which steers itself, and a few others that we’ve yet to see. A nice touch: tapping on snowflakes collects them too – providing a role for siblings and/or parents when one child is controlling the Snowman.
All the while, you’re listening to music from the Snowman and Snowdog film. And this time around, kids can customize the Snowman’s face, hats, and scarves using those snowflakes as a currency.
Currency? You may have spotted this coming, but whereas last year’s game was fully free – promoting the film – its sequel is “freemium”. That means it offers in-app purchases for boosts, upgrades, and extra snowflakes.
We’ve been checking out the in-game store this morning: snowflakes can be bought for between $0.99 for 2,000 and £3.99 for 20,000, with these then exchangeable for the various power-ups and customizations. Channel 4 also says that no player of the game will be able to spend more than £20 in total – the first time we’ve seen such a cap in a freemium game for kids.
We (and Channel 4) will be watching the reacti0n of parents to see whether they’re happy with this. The game certainly appears to be taking a responsible attitude towards its in-app purchases, but their use in a game based on such a well-loved brand (and one whose game last year was completely free) could still be controversial in some quarters.
Even so, the game itself is beautifully done, and snowflakes are dished out fairly liberally through the gameplay, so we’re feeling warm happy thoughts about it as it stands. The Snowman and the Snowdog is a free download for iPhone and iPad, and a free download for Android.