Amazing Snake


Review by Bruce Consolazio



Graphics: 7

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

amazingsnakecoleco.jpg (15510 bytes)A homebrew cartridge game by S.E.T. and Daniel Bienvenu for the ColecoVision, Amazing Snake is similar to early 1980s games such as Snake Byte and Nibbler. You guide a snake through 20 screens, trying to eat all of the apples while avoiding crashing into the border, the maze barriers, and yourself. Complicating matters is the fact that every time you eat an apple, your snake grows a new segment, making it more and more difficult to avoid crashing into yourself. After a randomly-determined amount of time, cherries will appear somewhere in the maze; they are worth 100 points (as opposed to the apples' 10). Note- you do not have to eat the cherries. You start with 20 snakes, and earn a bonus snake at every 450 points.

And that's pretty much it.

There are two basic variations in this game: one that has 20 pre-determined mazes, and one that randomly generates 20 screens, one at a time; they can be anything from perfectly clear (no maze barriers) to very difficult. There are 9 speeds, ranging from very slow to pretty much impossible.

Graphics in this game are simple, but attractive. The two title screens are impressive, especially the one with the large snake and game title on it. The border is a nicely-rendered brick pattern, while the maze barriers are dark and light green. The apples and cherries are both red and green, while the letters and numbers are green and gold (a distinct Daniel Bienvenu touch). Your snake is single-colored green, which makes it more distinct, if simple-looking. The dominant colors in this game are red and green, and it does have the look of a game circa 1980/1981.

Sound is simple enough, being limited mostly to crashes, the sound of your snake eating something, and a nifty tune if you fail to get through all 20 screens. It all actually works very well here, in a relaxing sort of way.

Gameplay is, overall, quite good, but takes a little practice. All of the images used in this game seem to be custom characters, so controlling the snake itself is very awkward at first. Once you get the hang of it, though, you'll wonder how it ever gave you any trouble. If you choose the pre-set mazes, you will go through 20 distinct mazes, each with its own name. The random option is just that: you may get an easy game or one that's really difficult, with complex mazes. Which speed you choose will, naturally, determine overall difficulty; speed 7 will be VERY challenging, but not quite impossible. In short, you can play a relaxing game, or an impossible one. Or something between the two.

From time to time minor glitches will occur: a hole may appear in the brick barrier in the upper right, and sometimes a portion of one of the green maze barriers will be out of place. Neither glitch is serious, though, and the latter can actually make the game a bit more interesting. The random setting is much less likely to have any of this happen, by the way.

In addition to all of this, there are some extra options. There is a 2-player game version, but it simply allows Player 1 to play the odd-numbered screens, while Player 2 plays the even-numbered screens (if you play the normal version and merely pass the controller back and forth, you would have the same thing). The score is shared. In this version, the snake often develops a visual glitch when moving left.

An interesting bonus is one of the most peculiar variations of "Pong" you'll ever see: a version that uses snakes instead of paddles. Separating the 2 sides of the screen is a blue "waterfall" effect, while the left and right sides have an interesting "rolling" effect made of white stars. The snakes use their bodies (never their heads!) to deflect the blue ball back and forth, and they can move anywhere within their areas. It's a weird, but welcome, inclusion, and certainly unlike any other game out there!

Finally, I should mention the clever box. It has a picture of the "arcade version" of Amazing Snake, just like the old ColecoVision boxes, bragging that the cartridge plays like the UNRELEASED arcade game... and the back is authentic-looking, too!

Overall, this is not the best-looking, best-sounding, or best-programmed game for the ColecoVision, but it's an attractive, pleasant, and fun game, and of a sort not already available for this console, which makes it even more welcome.  Thanks to S.E.T., Daniel Bienvenu, and everyone else involved with this game for giving ColecoVision owners another winner.     


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Last updated: Sunday, September 25, 2005 05:38 PM