Snake Review—Simply a Classic, But Too Simple


Snake is literally one of the oldest video games around, its gameplay dating back to 1977 and the game Hustle from Gremlin, which in turn was a single-player version of their game Blockade, released in 1976. It was cloned on virtually every computing device and video game system, and a version called “Nibbles” came with QBasic, found on pretty much every PC sold from 1990 until Windows XP came out. It was also a very popular game on mobile phones in the late ’90s, which gave it its modern name of “Snake,” though some previous versions also used the Snake name.

If you are somehow not familiar with the game, it’s very simple. You play from a top-down perspective and control the direction of the head of a snake, with its tail slithering behind. Your goal is to maneuver the snake so it eats a dot on the playing field, and as you eat more dots (or simply the longer you play), the tail grows in size, becoming an obstacle that you must avoid, since it doesn’t change direction as you move but rather follows your previous path.

His tail is starting to get a little long.

His tail is starting to get a little long.

Eventually the tall becomes so long you have almost no room to move, and you eventually run into yourself. It’s a game you can’t win, just one you simply try to set a high score on. Thankfully, this has a high score table to keep track of yours.

This version of Snake is one of the more basic ones. There is no level progression, no competing snakes, and there’s only one type of food you pick up. There are, however, several (10 in fact) different layouts for the screen to choose from when starting a game. Each layout essentially just has walls on the screen which will also kill your snake if you run into them. They range from a simple line in the middle of the screen to four dashes, to diagonal lines, to the screen being completely segmented into fours (thus requiring you to go off screen).

That complicates things more than you would think.

That complicates things more than you would think.

You also have the option to pick difficulty, which simply sets how fast the snake moves. I would have liked a difficulty setting that changed the size of the playing field. As it is, the snake and food are kind of blocky. The playing field seems to have a width of about 45 blocks and height of 25 blocks, which I guess compares to the phone versions but is smaller than most other computer or video game versions.

Snake was popular in earlier incarnations because it ran on very simple hardware, essentially using just solid blocks. This version emulates that look, very much looking like the QBasic version, with the exception of adding eyes to the head. It’s a cute touch. You also have the option to change the color of both the snake and food. On the flip side, the animation of the snake is not at all smooth, but kind of jerky. It doesn’t seem to affect the handling of the snake, but it’s more like watching a caterpillar move across the screen. There also aren’t any sound effects.

Now *that* looks more like a snake.

Now that looks more like a snake.

This is a really hard game to review, because it’s an absolute classic game that is fun to play, still to this day. And, the developer put a little more than the minimum effort in. Not much more than the minimum, though, since the only real options are the layouts and perhaps the controls (you can use the D-pad or the face buttons to guide the snake).

On the flip side, it’s literally a game that was given away as an example program or bundled with phones. Heck, Microsoft still gives it away for free. That’s a 23-kilobyte QBasic program, yet this has shallower gameplay. While this is an okay implementation of Snake, it could have been much, much better.


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5 Responses to “Snake Review—Simply a Classic, But Too Simple”
  1. JeremyR says:

    While the title (loading) screen says Snake!, everywhere else it just says Snake

  2. Sniper D. Luffy says:


    i had to do that… >_<

  3. Freelance says:

    Snakes? Why did it have to be snakes?


  4. Aaron Jean says:

    While I sure the quality of the game is below-par, I think it’s wrong to jump to conclusions and say that the developer put little more than the minimum effort in. Honestly, most of us here have no clue how much effort that really is, or the kinds of challenges the developer faced during development.

    I’m not saying this should affect the score or make us more forgiving of faults. I’m just saying we should be reviewing the game only, and not allow the game to shape our ideas of the game’s developer.

  5. O says:

    OH! Quotes, huh?

    I have had it with these MOTHERF…

    On second thought, I’ll pass.

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