Review by Bruce Consolazio



Graphics: 9

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 9


Yet another obscure arcade game that found new life on the ColecoVision, Slither was the game Coleco included with the Roller Controller.

Essentially a clone of the wildly popular Centipede, Slither was Coleco's answer to the 5200's version of that better-known game. In it, you play a spaceship trapped on a desert planet, surrounded by giant snakes, winged Tyrannosaurs, and swift-flying Pterodactyls, with cacti scattered everywhere, and two big, indestructible rock formations.

The object of the game is -surprise!- survival, by way of blasting everything you can.

slither1_coleco.gif (2345 bytes)Snakes slither all over the screen, somewhat randomly, in any of the four basic directions. One in the head usually leaves a cactus and a smaller snake, while a hit in the midsection results in two smaller snakes. A shot to the tail is your best bet, as this results in a smaller snake, usually with no cacti being formed. At times, snakes can become partially invisible, with only the eyes and tail being visible. It doesn't sound like much, but when the action is frantic and crowded- and this game gets VERY frantic and crowded! This can throw you off for a lethal split-second.

Tyrannosaurs move from left to right or right to left, maybe in a straight line, maybe at an angle. They have a habit of leaving a trail of cacti behind them, not unlike the way the Fleas from Centipede leave behind mushrooms. The Pterodactyls sweep up and down, from one side of the screen to the other, to the tune of "Flight of the Bumblebee." They are very fast, and harder to hit than you might think.

Touching any monster, of course, results in your immediate destruction. Cacti merely block you, as do the rocks. So far, this game sounds like a simple Centipede, but there are several things about it that help to give it its own identity.

First, everything plays over the entire screen, including you. Unlike Centipede, you can move your ship anywhere you wish, and the monsters can go anywhere they wish, so the game is not actually a Space Invaders style game. If anything, it is more closely related to Robotron: 2084.

Secondly, you can fire up OR down- depending on which button you press. Therefore, you can move in one direction while firing in another, often being able to cover your retreats. Thirdly, there is a timer. Like Centipede, the game progresses in waves, but in this game they are timed. If you manage to destroy all of the snakes before the timer reaches zero, you get a bonus, but if not, the next wave of snakes is released, even if snakes from the previous wave are still there (!!), which really helps reduce your chances for survival!

There are the splendid graphics featured here. Your ship is multi-colored and sharply detailed, easily looking arcade quality. The Tyrannosaur is also multi-colored and nicely animated. The sky, the sunset, and the rock formations are also beautifully done, making it hard to believe that the ColecoVision can only show 16 colors and shades. Even the single-colored snakes and Pterodactyls are detailed and professional looking. What's more, periodically the colors change to evening, which is just as stunning. The only complaint I would have is the way the Tyrannosaurs and Pterodactyls just vanish when you shoot them; it would've been nice to have the points you just earned appear.

The sound is also great. Your laser has a good, solid sound to it, the Tyrannosaur has a suitable stomping footstep, and the music used for the Pterodactyls is arcade-quality, helping prove Coleco's claim of this system's superior sound. Even the music that plays when you pause the game is worth listening to, as is the tune when you are destroyed, and when the game is over.

Game play is fun and challenging. Once the game reaches the upper levels, even with Skill Level 1, you'll soon try to be everywhere at once, and finding that even that may not be enough. There is just enough variety to keep it interesting, and half the fun is trying to figure out just which cacti to blast and which to leave, in order to force the snakes coming out to swerve, thus buying you a few precious seconds. If you liked Centipede, chances are you'll like this game.

As for challenge, well, there are few ColecoVision -or any games, for that matter- that will have you more frantic than this one. When you find yourself cornered by more than 20 snakes, with the other monsters making their rounds, with the timer approaching zero (and thus, reinforcements!), you will know how people can get blisters on their firing fingers!

Overall, this is a good, solid game. Coleco dropped the ball on a number of 1983 games, but not with this one. A terrific game by itself, and, for those who actually had a chance to play and enjoy Slither in the arcades, a dream come true, especially with the arcade-like controls.


Snakes come out of the sides of the playfield. By “building” a barrier of cacti on the left and right lower sides of the playfield, you can buy some precious extra seconds in the higher screens. Aim for the snakes’ tails.

Learn not to fire constantly, since this will create many smaller snakes and unwanted cacti. Once you learn how to aim your shots, the game will become less difficult.


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Last updated: Sunday, September 17, 2006 02:30 PM