An isometric action platform game with two funky snakes.
gggames_se wrote this review on .
Snake Rattle n Roll is a fast paced action game where you play as a funky snake called Rattle. Rattle can jump, squirm really fast, swim and kill stuff with his tongue. He also grows when he eats stuff called Nibbley Pibbleys that are found all around the place. Nibbley Pibbleys are basically small edible balls that come in various types. For example some have legs and run around while others have wings and fly around. Either way, you must catch them with your tongue and eat them.
The game is seen from an isometric view and the stages you play in are very busy and filled with action. The goal of the game is simply to eat enough Nibbley Pibbleys to make you grow, and when Rattle's tail flashes you must weigh yourself on the special scales that are located somewhere on the stage. If you are heavy enough a bell will ring and the exit to the next level opens up. You are then free to leave the stage or stay around and collect some extra bonuses. The game allows you to explore and roam freely, but there is a time limit that you should take into consideration.
The game has eleven stages in all, and while the environments are pretty abstract the stages do have some really interesting features such as waterfalls, water, ledges, bridges, hills and chasms. You will need to explore the area quite thoroughly and the landscape alone will present a serious challenge – there are many tricky jumps and dangers that await. In these treacherous areas you will be subject of many deadly falls and traps. In this world there are very few actual enemies. Instead, you will be pummeled by traps, and lots of them in various shapes and forms. The enemies you do encounter are often easily dispatched by either jumping on them or hitting them with your tongue.
You begin the game with just a snake head sliding along the floor. Here and there you will find strange machines constantly spitting out Nibbley Pibbleys – these are called Nibbley Pibbley dispensers, and they have an infinite amount of Nibbley Pibbleys. It's quite devious though – sometimes it spits out bombs that explodes and hurts you, so you need to be careful around the dispensers. As long as you have a tail, you can take a hit without losing a life – this means that you will be very vulnerable at the beginning of each stage, but getting some Nibbley Pibbleys to get you started is usually not a problem.
Scattered around the stages you will find lids that you can open up by sliding over them and pressing the B button. This will unveil its contents that are either good or bad – this is where you'll eventually find bonus stages, warp zones, power-ups and the like, but they can also hold bombs and enemies. They aren't randomized however, so in theory you could learn where the goodies are hidden – but do keep in mind that there are a lot of lids in this game.
The biggest dangers in Snake Rattle n Roll are the many chasms that instantly kill you. Rattle and Roll are very vulnerable to falling damage altogether as even a minor height will instantly kill them. Especially the later stages will have much of the focus around tricky pixel-perfect-precision jumps where one single mistake will end up in the snake falling down, only to lose a life and get teleported back to where it was before it fell, and this really lowers the overall fun factor of the game!
The two-player mode lets another player control Roll, the other snake in this game. You are playing simultaneously and co-operating, which is a blast and makes the game a little easier (though the tricky and forbidding jumps and chasms are still there).
The game gives you two lives and two continues to beat the whole game. Extra lives can be found here and there, but there are no passwords or save function that will help you get through the game. There are however hidden warp zones that will allow you to skip certain levels – if you can find the warp zones that is. The sum of it all is that this game is very hard to play through and demands an iron will. This is a mean hardcore game hiding behind a cute and cheery theme.
The controls aren't exactly straightforward. The directional pad on your controller is mapped to align with the isometric perspective rather than the orientation of your viewpoint. This means that pushing up on the control pad will make Rattle move diagonally upwards to the right. Needless to say this takes some time to get used to and when you think you've got it, it's sure to betray you. Those precision moves that require you to make turns in mid-air are made that much harder only because of this unusual control scheme. Otherwise the snake is quite agile, moves around with a intuitive momentum and can jump quite far.
There are some special power-ups in the game that will give your snake extra abilities and powers. There's a tongue extension power-up and a temporary boost to your speed among the standard extra time, extra lives and temporary invincible pick-ups. Even the power-ups can be traps though! Now and then when you thought you'd just found an extra life and approach to pick it up, it may turn into a bomb! Seriously, in this game you never know what to expect.
The graphics is a nice mix of abstract landscapes and comic-style sprites. The game is quite detailed too – for example you will see Rattle and Roll spit out the legs of the legged Nibbley Pibbleys after chewing and eating them. The designs of the stages are cleverly done, but sometimes it can be hard to tell at what level a specific platform is at – and this is vital information. There also seems to be some unwanted graphical glitches in the backgrounds that can confuse you.
The game maintains its frame rate satisfactorily despite the constant action that's going on, and that's impressing in its own right.
The music is very catchy and cheery. It has been strongly influenced by American rock 'n roll, and actually has a tune that vaguely resembles Elvis Presley's song "Shake, Rattle and Roll" in glorious 8-bit sound. Clever, huh? The music is certainly a great mood lifter, and the sound effects are also good.
Snake Rattle n Roll is a really fun game – at least for as long as you are making progress. Once you lose all your continues and are forced to start all over from the first stage, it can be daunting to replay the whole way back to where you were. The controls wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for the acrobatic mid-air turns across those chasms you must do to make progress in the later levels. The two player co-op mode is very solid and can bring hours of entertainment. For each level you beat the game will become harder and harder – it's really an ordeal that you can take on together with a friend, and despite its deadly difficulty level can be great fun, thanks to the free roaming stages, nice fast paced action, fighting and exploration aspects.