Snake Rattle 'n' Roll

Watch out for Nibbley Pibbleys, Flying Carpets and Bigfoot!

I don't think I've ever heard of Snake Rattle 'N' Roll in my life. It hasn't been on greatest hits list I've come across, it's not been mentioned in passing, either by friends or in retrospectives - my radar simply hasn't got a clue what to do when these two snakes, Rattle and Roll, bounce their way into town.

Not for the first time then, let's find out what's going on.

Fun Times

Bright and colourful, both in sight and sound, Snake Rattle 'n' Roll has you control a tailless snake eating his way to greater lengths and strengths through platforming and problem solving.

Its entry in the 1001 list mentions that the isometric view gives off vibes of both Q*bert and Marble Madness, and it plays a little like them both, too. Jumps require precision (yes, snakes can jump) and enemies will need to be dealt with before they impact on your progress through the level.

The levels themselves are somewhat small but pack in plenty of challenge and variety as you make your way through them before testing your strength/length and, if you're a strong/long enough snake, the exit door opens for you to make your way to and through.

An attack accompanies your jump, allowing you to flick out a monstrously long tongue that can gobble up the 'Nibbley Pibbleys' that you need, as well as damage and defeat any threats in your way. Nibbley Pibbleys in your own colour will increase the weight of your snake more than the other players colour, and they'll also act as segments of health, meaning that you can lose some of your tail (or is it really a body?) and still be in the running to complete the level, though there are some one-hit kill threats that you'll need to look out for, or you'll lose a life instead of a bit of your body/tail.

As a NES title, it's going to have a simple control scheme, so the depth of this game depends on having those simple controls go so far.


It's a shame, then, that I was caught out too damn often with forgetting which button I would need to move where I wanted, thanks to that isometric view and the very much not isometric d-pad layout.

I suppose I could have just angled the controller to match, but I suspect that would have lead to even more problems, as I overcompensate something that I've already compensated for. Anyway, the point is I was not having the greatest luck in moving with much confidence or precision.

It could be done, certainly, and I wasn't struggling to get anywhere at all, but I was definitely not going as smoothly as I knew these snakes could go - which is a little ironic, because these guys do move smoothly, it feels pretty slick (until you stumble into the next problem or enemy or problematic enemy).

Running out of time was common enough to bring the game to a close for me, but losing lives to failing jumps to get back to the safety of dry land, or by crashing into a threat before being able to react to it would also contribute to my downfall.

YouTube and the much better gamers than I that are on it have shown me the rest of the game, which continues to have bright music and loud colours, and vice versa, but I would not have been able to see the majority of it on my own.

Final Word

Snake Rattle 'n' Roll is a nice little game that I'm no good at. It's welcoming and friendly in its appearance - perhaps too much so - but the meat to be found underneath that skin is plenty to sink your teeth into. Or fangs. That would have been a better choice. Staying with the snake theme and all that.

I think the best thing that can be said for Snake Rattle 'n' Roll is that if you want to lick a foot until it explodes, then this is the game for you. If you like Q*bert and Marble Madness, then try it out too, because you'll be more at home than the rest of us, who should just try it because it's a little different, and what's not to like about a little different?

Fun Facts

One of the self-imposed design challenges was to make Snake Rattle 'n' Roll the NES game with the smallest file size - as well as having smooth scrolling graphics deemed 'impossible' to achieve on the NES.

Snake Rattle 'n' Roll, developed by Rare, first released in 1990.
Version played: NES, 1990, via emulation.
Version watched: NES, 1990 (World of Longplays)