Wednesday 17 August 2016

Sssnake (Supervision review)

Developer: B.I.T.S.
Publisher: Watara
Released: 1992

Sssnake is an action game that originally began as an Arcade title called Blockade (1976).

Playing as a snake, your objective is to eat all the apples and apple cores on the playfield to complete the level. You automatically move in the direction you're facing and being successful means avoiding the walls, plus the skull and crossbone icons. You must also dodge your own tail, which grows longer as you gorge on apples. Holding down the A button allows you to increase your snake's speed, which is helpful as a bonus score is awarded for any time remaining on the clock once you've cleared the level. In principle, the game is simple, yet addictive, with an Arcade style quality that favours high score chasers. However, the controls are simply atrocious and very close to being broken due to their unresponsive nature. Most of the time it feels like the game is ignoring your commands which usually sees you helplessly crashing into a wall. As a result, precise movements are futile, and instead of having fun you'll spend most of your time fighting the wonky controls. The game only affords you three lives (with no continues or passwords) so experiencing later levels is an exercise in pure frustration, as you'll continually replay the opening levels while hoping that the controls don't let you down. It's all very disappointing as there's actually some good ideas here that could have worked well; for example, the level design constantly changes to keep things fresh and if you strategise correctly and eat all the apples before the cores you'll earn Secret Bonus points. Musically, there's only one hideously joyful track during gameplay that offends more than it should due to the shoddy inputs! It's also heavily distorted and makes it sound like the console's speakers are about to explode! The intro voice sample is cool though.
Sssnake is a game concept that's seemingly impossible to botch, yet B.I.T.S. managed it with spectacular incompetence. It beggars belief how more care wasn't put into the controls (considering they're crucial to the entire gameplay experience) and what's left basically resembles an early beta release.
Random trivia: The only other Supervision games developed by B.I.T.S. were Matta Blatta (1992), Olympic Trials (1992, with Divide By Zero) and Tennis Pro '92 (1992).

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