Lukas' Snake, Rattle & Roll Review
Fun and somewhat addicting gameplay
Awesome and quirky audio/visuals
Controls take some time to get used to
Jumping physics aren't any good
If there was one game on the NES that combined strangeness with high difficulty, there was this one called Snake Rattle and Roll. This game wasn't too well known, in fact, it's actually an underrated gem for the NES, mostly because when it came out, it didn't sell too well. Why was this? Was it because there were better games like Mega Man 3 coming out? Or was it because the difficulty was too harsh? Or better yet, was it because this game...just couldn't catch on? Well, whatever the case, it's bullshit. This game is easily one of the most underrated NES titles out there and for no apparent reason, maybe except some frustrations here and there among somewhat adaptable controls, and maybe because of high profile titles like Mega Man 3, Super Mario 3 and Castlevania 3 putting this one in the dust. The best way to describe Snake Rattle and Roll while seperating it from the other 1990 titles is that it's frustrating yet fun and innovative.
Now, I have a guest reviewer helping me with this review, mostly because this game hosts a 2-player feature and we both have a lot to say after playing it. It wishes to remain anonymous. Anyway, let's start up the review.
The title screen looks rather impressive. I almost thought it was 16-bit, but when I looked closer, it looked 8-bit. I really like how glossy the text throughout looks. I mean really, how many 8-bit games can boast that sort of glossyness?
Agreed. The the rest of the game looks good too. Though far from the most detailed and best looking NES game out there, it looks good. I love how the foregrounds and backgrounds are simple, yet the characters are somewhat detailed. It gives you the sort of feeling that the game is meant to look odd, I guess. The enemies look very strange, I mean, they're either anvils, feet or something like that. You know, the sort of thing you wouldn't normally see out in real life. Sometimes, you even run into toilet seats!
I thought they were clams until I took a closer look.
So did I. But most of what you're going to be encountering would be balls...
Balls of 3 different colors. Either pink, lavender or gold. What...oddballs. In short though, the graphics are quirky and pretty easy on the eyes, and that compliments how the game looks, feels, plays and sounds.
But the major thing that people talk about when it comes to an NES game would be how it plays, and this game is no slouch in that department, because it has a few things going for it - innovative, fun and challenging!
Ohh it's challenging alright. Challenging to the point of frustration!
But...we'll talk about that later. For now, we'll talk about the actual structure of how it's played.
Snake Rattle and Roll is played isometrically and basically. The aim of every level is to move the snake around and have it swallow at least 5 pink, lavender or gold balls to get very long, thus managing to weigh enough to make this bar hit the bell, and you have to find that somewhere in the level after swallowing enough, then find and head to the exit. It sounds easy enough, but as they say, it's easier said than done.
Well put. It is much easier said than done, mostly because the level designs don't exactly fit with the controls. The view of every level has that psuedo-3D feel to it, and since the NES controller wasn't exactly diagonally-friendly, the controls, or at least the d-pad controls, had to be altered a bit. Basically, the d-pad has been rotated 315o to try and make up for that, but it's pretty hard to get used to, though they are adaptable. If you don't know what I mean, I'll explain. Pushing right moves the snake down to the right. Pushing down moves it down to the left. Up moves it up to the right, and left moves it up to the left. And of course, you have A for jumping and B for sticking the tongue out, but jumping gets to be a much bigger pain than slithering.
For one, the levels seem to have a lot of jumps that are diagonal or blocked by higher blocks, forcing you to go forward more until you can get to the opening, then jerk the d-pad the way where the opening is. Here's a better way of explaining - you have a jump that's down to the right, and there's an opening up to the right. Jump and when you try to go up to the right, you'll be blocked off and probably die. You keep moving down to the right until you get to the opening up to the right. But it's easy to screw up, because it tends to get jerky.
What he means by jerky is that...basically, the d-pad controls are somewhat sensitive, which is alright while the snake is slithering, but in mid-air, it becomes a problem, especially when there's pits, spikes and other instant-death objects thrown in the mix. It's pretty bad, and even when you do get used to the controls, you will still screw up jumps somehow. THAT makes the game frustrating to play. I mean, on land, it's not ALL that frustrating! There's the occasional cheese moment with anvils and balls turning into bombs (which is a real shitflipper considering they turn into bombs as you close in on them, blowing you or a part of you to kingdom come) and the like, but it's fairly tame, especially compared to aerial movements!
I hear that! I remember we actually lost so many lives trying to make certain jumps just because the movement's either too sensitive or the snake just decides not to make it into the little indent!
And speaking of lives, you start with 3. You lose lives either by failing jumps or getting hit by enemies when its just a head, though you can gain lives by collecting glowing snake heads. Now, this game could've been a complete prick, but it decided to at least be nice to you by letting start around the last platform you were on before you died, instead of at the beginning of the level. It's also nice whenever you get a game over, you start about where you got that game over. You only have 3 continues though, and when you lose all those continues, you have to start from square one, but hey, the game has to be mean to you lives-wise sometime!
Yeah...we all know it's not cruel enough with the controls!
Oh god, enough with the controls! Yes, we get it, they're cruel! But! They're adaptable!
...let's just steer away from the controls and talk about the extra parts of the levels.
Thoughout the levels, you'll run into these manhole trash-can looking things which, if you press B over them, will flip open and reveal an item or an enemy. Items range from jewels which give you more points (which we'll talk about later) to lives and sometimes a winder that makes you go faster, and enemies range from toilet seats to feet, and occasionally some ball comes out and you have to try and swallow it. Sometimes, you'll find a bonus stage (one per level) and in them, you find more balls to swallow thus adding more to your score.
And when you finish a level, you can get yourself more points. For every lavender ball you swallow, you get 100 points. Pink balls give you 200 points for each one you've swallowed and gold balls give you 300 points each. You can get a pretty high score basically if you spend ages on a level just eating balls.
Unfortunately, you can't spend an eternity because each level has a time limit. Fairly short time limits I must add. I personally just eat enough then leave, but then again, when you die, you get a bit more time on you, and if you look under some lids, you'll also find some stopwatches (something you forgot to mention) that increases your time. But yeah, there is a limit to how long you can stay, so don't focus on just getting a really, really big score. Focus on completing the level on time. What is the consequence of not completing a level on time? You lose a life. And you can tell that you're short on time because at the last 10 seconds, the music speeds up, which really pumps the adrenaline and forces you to rush through the level before your snake dies and loses a life!
Aye. Well, time to wrap this up, don't you think?
NO! WE FORGOT TO MENTION THE MAIN ATTRACTION! 2-PLAYER!!!
Haha... Well, the 2-player mode is about the same as 1-player, except there's 2 snakes instead of 1. This is pretty cool because you guys can either try to finish the game together, or compete for the better score.
Unfortunately, it suffers from the Contra-syndrome, where if 1 player is too far ahead or behind, the other player will suffer by falling into pits, spikes, enemies, you name it. I think I beat you up at some point because we both died because you were a bit too slow.
Shut up! You were just too fast!
Anyway, it's about time we wrapped this up (for real this time) before we end up killing each other IRL. Basically, the game is fun to play once you get the hang of it, and having a second player is just another layer of fun, but unfortunately, the controls take a while to get used to, and if your patience is thin, you will not have any fun with this. I mean, the gameplay, graphics and soundtrack are great but the controls need a fair bit of work done to them.
The basic concept is well done and different from other games. No wonder this game was thought of innovative...
The controls leave a lot to the imagination. Eating is good enough and actually jumping is responsive, but movement controls are quite sensitive and moving in the air is a pain.
Glossy logos, colorful visuals and odd-looking characters add up for quite some amazing graphics, even if they're not extremely detailed.
The music is not only fun to listen to, but also goes well with the game - a bit odd and quirky, but doesn't go overboard. Great for 8-bit basically. Sound effects are also odd sounding yet good.
The game takes a fair while to finish, mostly because you have to try and get used to the controls, but partially because there's a fair amount of levels in the game to go through. And even when you finish the game, there's still incentive to play more, because the game is just addictive, mostly for novelty sake.
Just like replay value, the game is fun mostly in novelty value, but it's also fun once you get the hang of things, plus the soundtrack is also fun to listen to. However, if you lack patience, you'll find this game unfun to play, and that's fair enough, because the controls do take a lot to get used to. But if you have the patience, you will have a lot of fun with the game.
Snake Rattle and Roll isn't the greatest game on the NES, but it's one of the odder games in the large library. I can only recommend this to the hardcore gamer that has a lot of patience.
Or one who is down with retro games.
I wouldn't exactly say that, I mean, my sister loves this game and she isn't down with retro games.
...okay, but yeah, someone with a decent amount of patience will get into this game.
As a side note, if not too many people like this style of co-op reviewing, I'll stop doing it like this and go back to doing it alone in the usual style.