Platforms Xbox One/PC
Developer/Publisher Snowrunner Productions
Genre Arcade Platform Played PC
Despite the title, Soda Drinker Pro does not focus primarily on drinking sugar-filled carbonated beverages. At first glance it may seem to solely contain 100+ levels of sipping virtual soda in environments lacking any real depth or polish, but the real game is hidden through a doorway in the second level. Easily overlooked due to the aforementioned appearance of the environments, stepping through the shady entryway results in a game titled Vivian Clark launching which consists of the most obscure and ridiculous mini-games one can imagine. There are absolutely no explanations of how to play or progress through the games, but each game is tied with others, directing you to the next game based on how you die. At certain points you will be brought to a central hub location containing a bonfire and cards facing away from you, each one representing a mini-game within Vivian Clark. As you complete the games, they will be turned over, but with only a handful of lives to complete them and very little understanding of how the games operate, attempting to complete them all is very testing.
The mini-games are all simplistic in nature, ranging from collecting items as you fall from the sky in the form of a raindrop to platforming across pillars while controlling some sort of centipede creature, but because the objectives are not laid out at any point nor are you aware of just how many unique gateways into other mini-games exist, the experience can be confusing and off-putting. Choosing to fight through this initial sentiment, challenging yourself to clear as many mini-games as possible becomes a more enjoyable experience, but the loops to and from certain levels are not always clear. Some deaths result in being returned to the central hub area while others transport you to another level and if you do find yourself in another level, you may hit something which returns you to the last level you were in. Attempting to keep track of everything becomes tiresome, so while the appeal of oddball and seemingly random mini-games may entice you to keep playing, it does eventually wear off and you are left with the feeling of being in a Scooby-Doo hallway where doors do not lead where you want.
With Vivian Clark being hidden through a secret doorway, it is very possible a player may never even experience it, and will instead only have the titular soda-drinking gameplay to base their opinion on. Each level places the player in a unique location such as a hallway, on an iceberg with penguins, inside of a mouth, or atop a skyscraper. As you may be able to guess, the levels range from realistic to absurd. Sadly, some opportunities for incredible visuals (such as outer space) are wasted with the rough drawings and childish set pieces. These help drive home the point that Soda Drinker Pro does not take itself very seriously, but by the time you reach level 102 or unlock play bonus levels, you have very little desire to see more crude environments. If more effort had been spent designing the levels, perhaps reaching the end of that 102nd level would not feel like such a chore.
Occasionally there are quirky elements hidden in levels which help break the monotony of sipping soda and listening to various one-liners about the drink. Unlocking achievements for running across a grind rail and grabbing all of the bonus sodas or jumping off of a skyscraper and grabbing a soda as you fall will bring a smile to the player’s face but not every level has these elements. There are many times you find yourself standing in a bland environment with nothing to do, effectively encouraging you to simply chug the soda as quickly as possible for the remainder of the game and suggesting that any exploration is a complete waste of time. The inclusion of bonus sodas for the player to pick up offer some collectibles, however there is absolutely no use for these bonus sodas. They do not even replenish your soda meter as one might safely assume they would.
Regardless of which game within Soda Drinker Pro you happen to be playing, you will hear simple tracks playing in the background and every level has its own unique track. This is easily one of the strongest points of the title simply due to how many levels there are. The tracks are very clearly designed to follow the theme of each level so if you happen to drink soda in space, the background music fits this nicely. Similarly, within Vivian Clark the music tends to match the intensity of the mini-games perfectly. While the tracks are not complex orchestral pieces, the constant change in tone helps lessen the monotony of drinking soda after soda in roughly designed environments. It is not enough to save the experience as a whole but makes it slightly more bearable.
It is obvious from the start that Soda Drinker Pro is not meant to be taken seriously nor is it designed to be a life-changing experience. Unfortunately, the game keeps the joke going for too long and the charm wears off. Vivian Clark is without a doubt the strongest aspect of this title, although even it suffers from an overly complex web connecting all of the games. Those looking for a challenge will certainly find it while trying to complete each and every mini-game, but the desire to complete them all will likely dissipate before doing so. Considering that Vivian Clark is the far more substantial game, it makes very little sense to hide it within Soda Drinker Pro, or even to produce Soda Drinker Pro at all. Had the time and effort from that portion of the title been invested in Vivian Clark, the result would have been more favourable and produced a product many more would get enjoyment from.
- Vivian Clark has no shortage of mini-games
- Unique music for each level makes gameplay more palatable
- Crude art style takes away from the charm rather than adding to it
- If the Vivian Clark secret is missed, the experience is asinine
- Protagonist’s one-liners get repetitive relatively quickly
- Overly complex roadmap for Vivian Clark mini-games
The Score: 3.8
Eric is an Xbox editor for Analog Addiction where you can find all the latest gaming news, previews, reviews, and everything else that rhymes with those words. ‘Like’ Analog Addiction on Facebook to receive all of the updates as they’re posted.