Friday 2 July 2021

Snake Rattle 'n' Roll (NES review)

Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1990

Snake Rattle 'n' Roll is an action-platformer that was also released on the Sega Mega Drive (1993).

There's 11 stages and each one requires you to consume enough Nibbley Pibbley creatures until your snake is a certain length; once your tail is flashing, you can then activate a scale that opens up the exit. Various power-ups are available including a tongue extension and increased speed, but care must be taken to avoid the item that reverses the controls. The unconventional control scheme is definitely a source of initial frustration (mainly due to the isometric viewpoint) and whether you gain enjoyment from the action depends on how well you can adjust. This idea of feeling uncomfortable is intrinsically tied to the game's difficulty which is challenging at the beginning and downright brutal towards the end! Examples of the latter include devious death traps and dreaded ice stages that will no doubt test your patience. However, while the challenge is high the game isn't overly long and its expertly crafted stage design will keep you coming back for repeated play-throughs in an attempt to get just that little bit further. And that's specifically where most of the game's appeal comes from, as learning the intricately designed stages and figuring out the best strategy to beat them is incredibly addicting. A feature I really like is how you can either rush to the end of level door, or use up the entirety of the clock to collect extra creatures for huge points; in this sense, it's similar to Nights into Dreams (1996, Sega Saturn) and helpfully caters to both casual and hardcore players. There's a nice mix of enemy types and hazards too and the whimsical rock and roll music suits the game perfectly.

Snake Rattle 'n' Roll is a game that becomes more rewarding with each play-through and once the initial control quirks are overcome the gameplay really starts to shine. Sure, it is a rather brief experience and the difficulty is off-the-charts, but patient gamers are likely to have a blast conquering its impeccably designed stages.

Random trivia: This game was included as part of a 2015 Xbox One compilation called Rare Replay.

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