Snake Rattle n Roll (NES)

Snake Rattle n Roll Box Art

Snake Rattle n Roll

System: NES

Release Date: July 1990

Developer: Rare

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Action

Eat Nibbley Pibbleys to satiate your insatiable appetite in Snake Rattle n Roll! In this 1 or 2 player platformer, you want to get through each level. Why? I don’t know, really. Maybe kill stuff and eat whatever you can? You are a snake after all. As Rattle or Roll, there are 10 levels that you must find your way through before you fight the final boss.

Snake Rattle n Roll is an isometric title, because Rare loved designing isometric games. In most games of this view, you get a choice on how the character is controlled: either at a 45 degree angle, where pressing a cardinal direction moves you diagonally, or a 90 degree angle, where pressing a direction moves you in that absolute direction on screen. This is not so here, you only get the 45 degree control scheme, which gave me fits more than I’d like to admit.

This is a very challenging platformer. Your snake jumps with the A Button and flicks his tongue with the B Button. Tongue range can be increased by collecting fork powerups. 25 seconds can be added to the timer by picking up a clock. Your speed can accelerate by grabbing a wind up powerup. A diamond can be found to make you invincible for a moment. Levels have you running around, opening up sewer lids, avoiding enemies, and finding those Nibbley Pibbleys to eat. Your tail has to be long enough to weigh down the bell in the level to open the door to the next. Nibbleys that are the same color as your snake give you double points, but the yellow ones add to your length.

Each level presents a number of hazards. Jumping where a pyramid spike is kills you. Falling more than four blocks kills you. Moving a bit too far and falling off the side kills you. Getting hit by certain enemies immediately kills you. Running out of time kills you. Being in the water summons a shark that wants to kill you. Sloped terrain wants to dump you to your death. Ice terrain keeps your moment going, making your death imminent.

Some of the hardest platforming challenges I’ve ever come across exist in this game. Climbing the mountain in level ten can only be described as Sisyphean task. Your jumps have to be perfect to not go over the edge or fall back down where you came from (or to your death if you’re far enough along). You’re going to need to have hoarded all of your extra lives and continues through the game to get to the top. Then good luck making the jump to the door in the side of the mountain, judging what square you should be at is not an easy task.

But that’s not all! The final battle puts you on the moon against a jumping foot. These guys are a pain normally, but here, he’s as hard as Mike Tyson! He jumps around in a predictable path, but there are boulders that fall continuously, albeit in a predictable path. The rub here is that you need to keep tongue flicking this guy without stopping for even a second. Getting off alignment allows him to regenerate. Hitting the attack button too quickly doesn’t register an attack. It took me an hour and 15 minutes of constantly trying this battle to win.

Graphics: 2.0

The isometric view is fine, but nothing is particularly detailed or colorful.

Sound: 3.0

I like the music variety and the sound effects weren’t overpowering.

Gameplay: 3.0

The controls take some getting used to, but the speed and movement is surprisingly tight. If you rush through, you’ll make mistakes and die, so take your time in the later levels to succeed.

Difficulty: 2.0

This is a hard game, but I don’t think the design of the later levels are very fair. There are a lot of cheap deaths in store for you, then that final boss… don’t get me started!

Fun Factor: 2.0

I enjoyed the first 8 or 9 levels, then the brick wall came and I was less than enthused.

Overall Rating: 2.4

Snake Rattle n Roll earns a C+. This is a game that you should try. It’s definitely NES hard, though, so realize that going in.

Snake Rattle n Roll Video Review on YouTube