Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Retro Mondays: Snake, Rattle & Roll (NES)

Ok, so this is late. Yesterday I was celebrating Egg day. Happy Egg!

Goldeneye. Perfect Dark. Banjo Kazooie. Donky Kong Country. Viva Pinata. Starfox.

Rareware have made a LOT of games. A Lot of good games, and some incredible games. As far as that taste of nostalgia of goes though, nothing comes close to the fond memories coming back like a forgotten gem involving two snakes, and some Wailing Blues music...

What a bizzare game Snake, Rattle & Roll was. It was a simple, boring platform game. It was unforgivingly difficult, with a control system too clumsy and let-down by the lack of sensitivity and control afforded by the system at the time. Yet it was still brilliant. I think the continual theme the games I talk about share isn't great gameplay, or great innovation, more just capturing my imagination. Great moments in my childhood, where these games stood out for being different, and making me smile. What's not to like about two different snakes called Rattle and Roll?

So as you can see, the game basically played on that whole sort-of Marble Madness vibe and view, that sort of 2.5-D blocks which made up a lot of NES games. The game consisted of being a snake, and eating bits to make yourself a bigger snake, so you could ring a bell at the end of the level, to advance up. Quite why completely escapes me, but that didn't matter. Did Mario need a motive to dress like a Frog? I think not. It had loads of fantastic little touches, such as the levels always being well designed, and pretty tough. When you went in the water, a shark approached, complete with Jaws riff to increase the danger. Speaking of sounds, the game was also complete with Rock & Roll soundtrack, with hits like 'Great Balls of Fire' resplendent in all their 8-Bit remixed glory.

Here is the exact reason I started Retro Mondays. Not ONE person I have ever mentioned Snake, Rattle & Roll to have ever played it, nor remember it. Looking at the box art, I can hardly blame them, but to me this game represents a piece of my childhood, a proper little cheeky slice of gaming innocence. It's a nice nostalgic memory, and a perfect example that there are some special games out there, and almost every game means something to somebody.

It's unfair that in these times, Songs and Films get all the credit for evoking strong emotions, where I feel games have even more of an impact. Games are a truly interactive medium, and whilst their content might not be emotionally engaging, the memories and interactions and emotions remembered and evoked whilst playing them are incredibly potent, and the very reason we remember these games so fondly.

This game isn't going to go down in the history of gaming legend. It isn't going to be on 'I remember the 90's' on TV. But it matters to me. I remember playing with my dad, both laughing as we blasted it out co-op style and battle each other to eat the pellets. All from this stupid game. This stupid game with the Monty Python feet stamping down on you, and the checkers pieces chasing you.

Other people would of spent this article extolling Rare's virtues in making the FPS explode onto the console, and how Pierce Brosnan's face looked good square, and how they got the invincibility cheat on the 58th try at the Facility level. But screw them, Goldeneye doesn't quite affect me these two little snakes did, and how I felt when clutching that square control pad.

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