Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
There are games that take over your life which really don’t deserve to. At one point in the early 2000s, that game was Snood.
Originally released in 1996, the Puzzle Bobble-alike saw you matching sentient coloured blobs to eliminate them, and really added nothing else to the genre. What made it special, I think, was what it took away: pressure. It was a super-casual interpretation of the concept that let you obsess on high scores rather than reflexes. And thanks to an early 2000s shareware version, there was a moment when everyone was playing it. (Wikipedia reports that in 2001 it was the 9th most played game in the world.)
It was always an incredibly ugly game, the homemade look being mostly because it was homemade, created by geology professor David Dobson for his wife. But gosh, if it didn’t spread like mad fire.
The crucial means to playing was to shoot out a group of three or more of one colour such that other Snoods fell with them, thus lowering the Danger Bar and holding them all back from further descending down the screen. Because descent was based on how many turns you’d taken, rather than an ever ticking clock, it completely changed how the familiar genre played. And in that, I reckon, came its massive success. It also had a completely brilliant puzzle mode that I’m now discovering is as compelling as it ever was, and thus playing Snood instead of working, fifteen years on.
You can still play it right now for free, downloaded from here. And if you ever played it back in the day, it’ll be the sound effects that get you the most. Duh-duh-dah!