Snops Attack! (240 MSP) is a vertical-scrolling bullet hell that finds the United States facing its toughest and most-unusual adversary to date; a two-pronged invasion in the form of zombified cats (!) and their alien overlords, disrupting reality television and nuking the west coast into dust. Naturally, our only chance for salvation and getting those reality shows back on-air lies with a jet-piloting dog, Lt. Snops.
Oh, and yes, Snops Attack! looks spectacular, in case you hadn’t noticed. Screenshots can’t do it justice. In motion, it animates fluidly even with a thousand bullets on-screen, and it’s beautiful chaos every time. You could literally build an arcade cabinet around your TV, hang a sign outside your door, something classy like ‘Hurley’s Emporium of Awesome’, and charge a quarter per play (put it on ‘Insane’ difficulty and watch as you really rake in the coins). The point is, they’d be happy to pay, none the wiser that they were playing an indie game.
It has all the familiar shooter trappings; a spread shot as your default gun, or a magma-like, focused fire option for the bigger / tougher enemies and mini-boss battles, as well as the awesome (but under-utilized, in my opinion) ability to fire behind you. You can upgrade the range and effectiveness of your main guns up to seven times. You can amplify that further by swapping out for various ‘buddies’, special subweapons that pop up in the levels that can give you additional firepower options or allot you some extra shielding, via bullet-sponging pigs. These subweapons, like your main guns, can be upgraded (three levels), if you collect three alike.
There’s also bombs and ‘hyper attacks’, the latter of which is available after you’ve filled the meter in the top middle of your screen by collecting crystal skulls from your foes. Both these attacks and the aforementioned bombs ‘wipe out’ enemy fire in your vicinity. I found these tactics especially life-saving against large groups and boss battles where my bad decisions and posturing left me cornered.
And outside of a few sections that let you catch your breath, the action never lets up across the game’s six stages (each culminating in a boss fight) and four difficulty settings, ranging from ‘walk in the park, here to check out the art’, to ‘one ship, make it happen, dog’. Yeah, those are my annotations. Once you’ve reached the end though (under an hour), you’ve really reached the end, with not much incentive to stick around. I wish the game had an extra mode or two to keep me going, leaderboards would be nice as well, but the lack of either doesn’t drag the game down or lessen the fun you’ve just had.
There isn’t any other downside here. It’s one of the (if not the) most visually-impressive shooters available on the XBLIG channel. The looks would start a conversation but go for naught if the gameplay didn’t back it up. Snops Attack! delivers on that account and handles like a dream once the action takes off. That dream is, sadly, over too soon, yet the pure professionalism of its construction and mechanics ensures you aren’t left feeling empty. Give it a buy.