This is the forty-fourth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.
A new take on the classic Snake. Eat, increase and get faster!
I see we’re in for a stark critique of our culture of consumption, exploring how our drive to acquire and consume anything and everything is ultimately poisonous and self-destructive. Or maybe it’s just a 3D version of Snake.
Snake, for any readers unaware, is a classic arcade-style game design that has seen countless iterations over the years. Players control a snake which constantly moves forward on the 2D screen, able to turn it in 90 degree increments but never stop its slithering. The goal is to eat the fruits scattered around, but each fruit eaten makes the snake grow longer, increasing the danger of running into the snake’s own tail and ending the game. The player’s own success makes the difficulty rise accordingly.
Super Snake 3D is, as the title suggests, the same concept but in 3D. The camera is positioned behind the snake’s head, which automatically moves forward, and players must steer (with either WASD or the arrow keys) to avoid crashing into the scenery. Fruits are scattered around, and eating them increases one’s score but also makes the snake move faster and adds another segment to its tail. Unlike the classic 2D Snake games, however, I rarely even saw my snake’s tail, let alone crashed into it. Once I learned not to change direction too quickly — steering is smooth, not like the sharp 90 degree turns of classic Snake — I basically forgot about my tail, since there’s so much more room in 3D to avoid it. Instead, my focus was on surviving the dangerous playable stages on offer.
Each of these is wonderfully active. Platforms and rings rotate, asteroids swoop around in wide orbits, spaceships fire lasers at each other, volcanoes launch fireballs into the air. Dodging these obstacles is the true challenge, especially after collecting enough fruits that the snake’s speed is increased. Navigating can be tricky since there’s no free camera motion, so a few quick maneuvers could see the snake turned upside down and me totally disoriented. Usually followed by crashing into a wall or other obstacle.
Collecting fruits can be annoying, because they disappear and reappear at specific places in regular intervals. Many times I’d lined myself up to eat a tasty cherry only to find it had disappeared, without warning, just as I approached. This is especially frustrating when first starting a stage, when the snake’s speed is the slowest and it can take a while to reach a target. Simply applying the time-honored video game tradition of making objects blink a few times before they disappear for good would have helped immensely. Also, with fruits changing position so frequently, I rarely felt the need to chase down those which intentionally appeared in challenging spots, like inside a small tube or between some rapidly moving obstacles. Just wait, and soon there will be fruits floating out in the open, where they can be eaten without fear.
In addition to fruits, there are coins to collect, although I believe only one is spawned at any given time. A player’s coin total is cumulative, spent later to unlock new stages to play. The costs for these initially seemed prohibitively high, but I soon learned where the coins tended to appear in each stage and, as my skill in steering the snake grew, was able to collect coins quickly. Reaching higher speeds from eating enough fruits helps a lot, as there’s time to make a circuit around the stage before the coins time out and appear somewhere else. Finding coins and unlocking all the stages was my main motivation, but those who enjoy score chasing may like going after as many fruits as possible, which I imagine would result in dangerously high speeds for a stiff challenge. In fact, I wish that the snake’s starting speed was a little higher, as it makes the first few fruits boring to collect. Then again, a faster starting speed would make things pretty tough on new players who are still learning to control the snake.
I was able to unlock all five stages (not counting the training stage) quickly, so such score chasing would be the only reason to play for an extended period of time. But I found Super Snake 3D to be a fun diversion. I like its low-poly, flat shaded art, and love the imaginative and kinetic stages, especially the wide open ones. If you fancy a steering a snake through these places, you should give Super Snake 3D a look. If you missed it in the bundle, it’s available for any price you wish to pay, including free.
That’s 44 down, and only 1697 to go!