Snake Rattle 'n' Roll

a game by Rareware, and Nintendo

Platforms: Sega GenesisGenesisNESNES

Genres: Action, Puzzles & Words, Platformer

See also: Snake Games, Snake Rattle 'n' Roll Games

  • Machine: Nintendo

Snake Rattle N Roll appears to be designed for gamers of the younger set. Look at it - cute little snakes slithering around for food. It's got to be simple, right?

Wrong! Don't be fooled. Once this intriguing game sinks its fangs into you, it just won't let go. It requires you to simultaneously collect various items, perform risky maneuvers, and race against the clock. If its dynamic graphics don't overwhelm you, its increasing level of difficulty probably will.

You control a serpent named Rattle (his friend, Roll, joins the game only in the two-player mode), and you're journeying up a mountain on your way to the moon. As each level begins, your snake starts with nothing but a head. Meanwhile, convenient dispensers are shooting out Nibbley Pibbleys, energy balls that bounce and dart around. By chasing and devouring the Nibbleys, you can add segments to your tail.

Eat enough Nibbleys and you can advance to the next level (there are 11 in all). That is, if you can avoid the booby traps and other nuisances.

The terrain works against you, too. Snake Rattle N Roll resembles the world of Marble Madness - elaborate platforms and ramps viewed from a 3-D perspective. The graphics pack a strong visual effect, and the dense landscapes are your greatest challenge. Each level is loaded with waterfalls, cliffs, and ledges. Later stages take you through underwater caverns and ice kingdoms.

Adapting to these different challenges demands new skills, such as swimming underwater and scaling slippery ice hills. Although you don't get a chance to practice, the game does give you two continues. You'll need them, as well as the hidden bonus continues.

Eliminating opponents isn't the central goal in Snake Rattle N Roll. In fact, there aren't any lengthy battle stages. The enemies you face are pesky but easy to destroy; their role is merely to slow you down. Getting through each level is the whole point, and it's also the main source of frustration. In some places, the multi-layered backgrounds are almost impossible to navigate.

For a game that seems so simple, Snake Rattle N Roll is surprisingly inventive and engaging. Try telling yourself it's just a kiddie game when you're perched on a mountain ledge, only a short slither away from certain doom.

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