For my first Retro Throwback article, I will be taking you all on a trip down memory lane and telling you all about one of my favourite games on the NES. When dedicated gamers like myself think of the developer Rare it always brings a tear to our eyes, for we know that back in the day Rare were one of the greatest developers in gaming. The reason it saddens us is because we know what has become of the gaming giants since it’s acquisition from Microsoft, nothingness. Rare has developed nothing but garbage titles since Microsoft acquired them during the Gamecube era, such garbage titles include Perfect Dark Zero, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts n Bolts and Kinectimals.
Most people know Rare for it’s successful blockbuster hits on the SNES and N64 days such as the Donkey Kong Country series, Killer Instinct, Star Fox, Banjo Kazooie, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark among many others. Go back a bit further to the NES days and some will remember a genious yet quirky little platformer in the shape of Snake Rattle n Roll. Aside from it’s sequel several years later on the Game Boy titled Sneaky Snakes, I would go as far as saying that there are not many other games in existence that have you play as a snake, in fact I cannot think of one other. That’s what makes Snake Rattle n Roll stand out still to this day. So without further ado, let me explain to you the reasons why I loved this retro game and why it was one of my favourite games on the NES.
The aim of this retro beast of a game which can either be played single player or two players simultaneously is to make it to the exit of each level by eating enough of the colorful circles within each level called “nibbley pibbley’s”, making your tail bigger each time you eat them. Once you had eaten enough of them, you then needed to weigh yourself on the weighing machine located at the end of each level to open a door to exit through to the next level. There are a total of 11 levels in the game, each level seeming to take you higher and higher up terrain. For example, the first level is pretty standard on the ground with plenty of water around, but as you progress through the game you will find yourself swimming up waterfalls, climbing up icy mountains before finally facing the last level on the moon!
This retro game has a fairly simple premise but for it’s time it boasted a very unique isometric style of visuals with simple controls and a challenging difficulty. Your main weapon of choice in the game is your tongue which starts off very small and inferior, but after collecting a certain power up in each level it gets bigger and bigger. You can also jump on the heads of your enemies just like most platformers back in the day (and still to this day actually). If you get hit by an enemy you will lose a segmant of your tail which you can regain back again by eating more “nibbley pibbley’s”, you will lose a life if your snake runs out of segmants, falls from too high, gets squashed by falling objects, hits something sharp or the timer runs out. Not to mention that pesky shark that will attack you in certain areas of the water if you stay in it too long. If you run out of lives you will have several continues which will ensure you can restart from where you left off but the game will end if you run out of continues. This may sound a bit too kind but don’t let that fool you, the game (well for me anyway) was a tough nut to crack!
In particular, level 10 was particularly hard for me as it was set on an icy mountain and involved having to climb up horrendous slippery slopes. The thought of doing so now still gives me the chills, brr. Getting the clock power up on levels like these is the way to go as it extends the amount of time you have to complete the level and you can take your time a bit more when it comes to making those difficult jumps over the spikes. One enemy in particular that seemed to be hell bent on giving me a hard time was the very odd giant foot that would appear randomly in various areas in certain levels. Unsure of it’s real name, my brother and I used to refer to him by the very apt “Big Foot”. The last level which happens to be on the moon features this “Big Foot” with a small flag attached to him, you must defeat him with your tongue whilst trying to avoid him stamping on you whilst also avoiding the rocks that are falling from the sky….a bit odd considering your on the moon….which looks like cheese.
Anyway, I remember countless times making it all the way to the moon with only my last life on my last continue to spare and dying having to start the whole game again, infuriating! But I never threw in the towel and gave up. I came across a way of getting to level 8 via a cheat, (do not judge me) what you have to do is to speed run through the first level as fast as you can to the end of the level where if you are quick enough you will find a space rocket. You must jump into the space rocket before it takes off and it will transport you to level 8! Once I found out about this cheat it was hard to not use it, being the age that I was. Eventually I managed to beat the last level thus beating the game and I cannot tell you how over the moon (haha) I was, finally I had made it to the top!
Whether you have heard of this retro game or not, one thing is for sure in my opinion, my gaming experience would not feel as complete as it does today had I not had the pleasure of this retro gaming goodness that is Snake Rattle n Roll. It would seem that I am not alone when it comes to praise for this retro classic, in 1990, Nintendo Power Magazine gave the game high praise and said that the game “defies description”. Nintendo Power Magazine reviewed Snake Rattle n Roll as part of an overview of NES games that did not particularly sell very well or were somewhat overlooked. Their only real criticism of the game was that the main characters were not very recognizable amongst consumers but also praised the game for it’s precise control scheme and blend of puzzle and action elements.
Snake Rattle n Roll also received high praise years after it’s release from IGN by coming in at number 32 in it’s “top 100 NES games” list. Well there you have it, I hope you enjoyed my first Retro Throwback article, if for some reason you have a NES console kicking about somewhere and a copy of Snake Rattle n Roll, give it a go for old times sake. If not, please enjoy the following clip below. Peace.
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Written by Sammy J on 11 August 2014