It’s funny how game consoles and computers carry different connotations with them. Even though consoles are just computers designed for a specific purpose, they carry a different association. Today, consoles are considered more “sociable” whereas PC gaming is often considered suitable for a “lone-wolf.” Multiplayer games on consoles are built with the living room in mind, and up until the seventh generation any game with a multiplayer mode included local multiplayer (i.e., the other players are sitting next to you instead of miles away) by default. In the 1970s and ’80s consoles also carried the connotation of shrinking down arcade cabinets to cartridges. Ever since the days of Home Pong consoles tried their hardest to bring arcade games to households.
Isn’t it amazing how war, the greatest misfortune, often provides the greatest backdrop for a story? Whether it’s an epic tale of a warrior’s fight as in The Iliad, or the slow torment of a man’s mind as in “Lawrence of Arabia,” war has a seemingly limitless capacity for showcasing the ultimate struggle in all its manifestations. It makes sense then that video games, tasking the player with overcoming a struggle, would be so well suited to war. What makes River Raid so special, though, is that it’s one of the first shooters to take place on a “realistic” depiction of Earth. The cover of the manual even appears to be alluding to the mountainous jungles of Viet Nam. So let’s go raid that river!
There are exceptions to everything, it seems. It’s possible to build a Chevy that’s better than a Ford (in theory), it’s possible to make a cartoon about ponies that men can enjoy, and Q*Bert has proven it’s possible for an isometric viewpoint not to muck up your enjoyment of a game.
There are some questions in life that are just crazy hard to answer. “Can a game be called a maze game if there’s no actual maze?” Universal seemed to think so when they made Mr. Do. Other questions are easier to answer, such as, “Are clowns absolutely terrifying?” That answer is obviously no.
And now that Pennywise has filled you with good cheer, let’s look at Mr. Do!
It’s time to conclude our snake trilogy with Serpentine, the maze chase game where the hunter is also the hunted. It’s all been building up to this. First, you saw how the maze chase genre was open to interpretation, then you saw how snake-based gameplay could compliment it. And now, it’s time for some serious snake-eat-snake action! Er, snake-eat-other-snake. This isn’t like Nibbler; you eat other snakes, not yourself. On purpose.
In my Ms. Pac-Man feature I remarked that the 1981 game Lady Bug demonstrated that the “maze chase” genre allows for many different interpretations, and now I’m here to show you that it can be taken in an entirely different direction with Nibbler, a game that makes traveling through the maze steadily more and more restrictive by filling it with a snake. Intrigued? I thought so. Read on after the jump.
“I have had it with these mother***ing snakes on this Euclidean plane!” -not Samuel L. Jackson
Let us remember these words of wisdom as we look back on the granddaddy of snake games. Although not the first game to feature snakes, Snake Byte did set the template off of which countless games would be based. Just as Pong and Space Invaders before it, Snake Byte was at the head of a list that would only grow longer and longer just like its myriad protagonists.