I remember a time when people would huddle around a Nokia 3210 in amazement as if it was a rare gem from faraway lands being admired. What they were actually doing was watching someone trying to set a high score on the immensely addictive Snake, a free game built into the Nokia mobile phones. Nowadays though, the legendary Snake isn’t so popular and could do with reigniting its gaming career somehow. Indie developers Crazysoft Limited have stepped up to take on the task with their first console release, Classic Snake Adventures, looking to bring the concept into the modern era. So, is it worth a nibble, or have we all had our fill of that hungry little reptile?
Well, it really depends on what your expectations of Classic Snake Adventures are, because although the classic has been modernised, some of the new ideas feel slightly detrimental to the overall experience.
To begin on a positive note though and Classic Snake Adventures on Xbox One doesn’t leave you wanting in terms of how many levels have been included, with a whopping 100 of them spread out across five worlds. The aim is to guide the snake through these levels, avoid obstacles, and eat the required amount of fruit to progress. You start each round with three lives, but if the snake crashes into a wall or itself, a life is lost. To make things tricky, the snake grows in length a little for every piece of fruit eaten, moving a bit faster in the process. Upon completion, up to three stars are rewarded based on the amount of lives retained; a single star is enough to advance, so don’t worry too much about getting full marks unless you’re working towards the related achievement for achieving such a feat on every level.
Unlike the original Snake incarnation, Classic Snake Adventures has a 3D snake traversing a 2D environment full of colour – it’s still played from a top-down perspective however. As such, the colourful fruit is easily distinguishable with the likes of apples, strawberries, lemons and more featuring throughout. Putting the fruit aside, there are other items to pick up as well including hearts to replenish your lives, fizzy drink cans which shrink in your snake in length, chicken legs that elongate the snake, and letters to spell out the word BONUS. The placement of all the items is random, which is great, but the randomness of specific power-ups appearing is silly. Some levels hearts will constantly spawn or the same letter keeps popping up so you can’t spell the entire word.
That’s nothing major in the grand scheme of things, however the hit boxes of the walls and obstacles placed within each level are frustrating inaccurate. In a game of such fine margins, losing lives through no fault of your own is a pain in the bum and that’s going to happen very often here. The snake can be cruising closely alongside a flowerbed and halfway across it’ll be convinced you’ve made connection with it. Next time you’ll feel as though you’ve hit a mushroom on your travels, yet the hit box detection is oblivious to it. Considering that’s one aspect the developers have suggested is more accurate than in its release on other platforms prior, it’s really disappointing.
What’s cool to see though are the inclusion of boss battles for every tenth level, with a humongous tree creature, swamp monster and scarecrow amongst the cavalcade of baddies. Over two thirds of the playfield is taken over by the boss and every so often they’ll magically conjure up a block to further restrict your movement. All you are required to do is collect a set amount of lightning bolts (instead of fruit) to damage the boss. The idea is worth praising, but the execution sees blocks make it almost impossible to reach some of the bolts without colliding with them. This makes boss battles a chore and you have to rely on luck to survive, which isn’t ideal.
Another issue I have is how samey the experience becomes. While the layouts change and the visuals differ, it’s not enough to avoid the feeling of repetition kicking in. Whether you’re in the swamp or icy worlds, the layouts can be quite similar and the gameplay objective seldom changes. Hence, after a few levels the boredom can creep in. It could’ve benefitted from an endurance mode to enable players around the globe to compete for high scores, just to offer something different.
The soundtrack actually surprised me though, mainly because of the pure variety it offers to create an atmosphere for proceedings. In one level it may provide a musical composition that’d inspire you to do an Irish jig, then the next it’s as if you’ve stepped in a biker bar or a Wild West saloon. It’s a very eclectic mix and while it may not always suit the setting, your ears will welcome the minor distraction the audio brings.
Classic Snake Adventures definitely comes across better in a visual sense than the archaic Nokia version and delivers a ton of levels to work through. The ideas aren’t bad either, especially the monumental boss battles present. Unfortunately, the randomness of item placement makes proceedings unnecessarily difficult and the erroneous hit detection doesn’t do anything to help matters. It also feels far too samey after a relatively short time, which isn’t great when the entire game could last a mere few hours.
Even though Classic Snake Adventures is under a tenner on Xbox One, I can’t recommend a purchase right now. Maybe if it’s in a sale then you could take a punt, but the draw of the game is hindered too much by the mechanics as it stands.