Sawbuck Gamer

Snakes On A Cartesian Plane

Watch Out For Snakes!

Snakes On A Cartesian Plane updates an arcade classic for Zoobooks enthusiasts.

By Todd VanDerWerff • June 21, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

Snakes On A Cartesian Plane updates the classic game Snake for a generation that read the Zoobooks issue about the slithery reptiles over and over. And though the game sometimes seems as if it’s aimed at the owners of exotic reptiles stores, there’s just enough variety here to keep things interesting.

Snakes is just the latest in the browser-based boomlet of arcade classics updated with multiple versions, all the better to keep those who’ve played the originals off-balance. The original Snake, of course, is all about a giant line—representing a snake—gobbling up dots—representing food. The more food the snake eats, the longer it gets. Bump into your own tail or the wall, and you’ll die. It’s not a particularly good game, but it can be addictive, particularly if the player is stranded somewhere with a cell phone from 1999 or waiting for a YouTube video to load.

Snakes On A Cartesian Plane ups the ante by starting out with the basic Snake and then adding on over two dozen additional versions, all of which are either based around actual snake species—rattlesnake, python, boa, etc.—or bad puns—the trouser snake just wants to be the biggest snake around. Each variation on the game offers a take on the classic that plays off of the snake depicted. The boa’s range of movement gets tighter and tighter as it gobbles up food. The sidewinder moves like a sidewinder. The sea snake has a finite supply of air. Some versions are more fun than others, but there’s a surprisingly diverse set of games here, all of which are based on the same central mechanic. Once everything’s unlocked, it’s pretty much just a bunch of versions of Snake, but on the way there, there’s fun to be had and somewhat accurate herpetology lessons to be learned.

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994 Responses to “Watch Out For Snakes!”

  1. JudgeReinhold says:

    The fact that herpetology doesn’t mean “the study of herpes” is disappointing. 

    Also disappointing: The Sawbuck Gamer games lately. Nothing has intrigued me much of late. Should be a thin Best Of list this month. 

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      There’s so many other games out there that don’t quite fit the SG category (unless you count their various humble bundle prices) that I’m actually not all that bummed out. I’ve got years and years of games to play.

  2. root (1ltc) says:

    Whenever this type of game comes up, the first thing I recall is a line written in the first Next Generation magazine issue which listed a Top 100 of All Time and had a general “Snake game” item on the list (in retrospect, somewhat surprising that they didn’t even mention Blockade):

    “Don’t Bite Your Own Ass: A rule of the Snake Game, and of life.”

    • dreadguacamole says:

      That’s so much better than my version:

      “Don’t eat yourself”

       Which would alienate the lucrative “limber, self-pleasuring” demographic…

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Nice; I’ll shelf that title right next to “The Tao of Pooh,” which I believe was also hinting at the shunned-upon behavior of eating one’s own ass. 

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

        One of my high school teachers loved that book. We did a world religions unit in his history class, but mostly it was him reading from that book and telling us about the university in Copenhagen.

  3. HobbesMkii says:

    I’m not sure I like that I have to play unfun levels over and over again to get new ones. I liked how the Pong variations were open to you from the beginning.

  4. Effigy_Power says:

    Kudos for reviewing something like this, but as a game this strikes me as extremely thin. I doubt I want to play another version of Bejeweled any more just because the stones look like the heads of famous 19th century German philosophers, although I hear lining up five Immanuel Kant’s gives you a golden Schopenhauer.
    There are a lot of excellent flash games out there that go unreviewed, this is neither unreviewed (now) nor good.

  5. dreadguacamole says:

    In other, budget-friendly news, there’s a slew of new content for Binding of Isaac!

    • Basement Boy says:

      Yep, The Wrath of the Lamb adds a ton more addictive crap to Isaac’s already crammed basement!! I’ve gotten more bang for those few bucks than any before, i do believe.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

        I still haven’t completed the base game once yet, so I’m kind of worried to buy the expansion. I figure I will after I beat it once or a few times though. It might even be on sale! (I know it’s only like $3 already, but that’s steam for ya.)

    • Merve says:

      I’m about halfway through QC right now.

      Pure. Joy.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        You, too? Are we friends on Steam yet? I sort of want to compare my shift/goal/death stats with yours. 

        • Merve says:

          Hahaha, my stats are terrible. I’m good at figuring out what to do and terrible at executing it. Your stats are probably much better than mine. But feel free to add me on Steam nonetheless. :)

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          I wouldn’t be too sure about my stats beating yours: I spent a lot of time picking up books and reading the titles, and although I’ve only just activated the first generator, there’s certainly more than a few puzzles that I’ve gotten entirely stuck on so far. 

          I only wish that the interface for QC were a little more like that of Portal 2 or SpaceChem, both of which make head-to-head leaderboard comparisons (of efficiency, etc.) so easy that you all but HAVE to keep replaying. 

        • Merve says:

          @google-19efbd0104cbaffa5782aef5b7104019:disqus: I’ve been wasting a lot of time in the game too. But instead of reading, I’ve been indulging my impulse to break every lamp I see. My uncle is gonna be pissed…

          Two generators down, one to go.

      • dreadguacamole says:

          Heh. I’m really enjoying it, except that I seriously suck at first person platforming, and some of the levels in the game are particularly nasty. The game requires a lot more coordination than either Portal.

         The jokes, though. The horrible, wonderfully bad jokes.

         Freezie Ray Vaughan!

  6. Brainstrain91 says:

    Clever, but only fun it you really like Snake for some reason.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Snake! SNAAAAAAKE!

      They get mega-points for throwing that in there, but it’ll never really be Snake unless I’m playing it during math class on my TI-83. 

    • Merve says:

      Lots of people love Snake. I’m surprised they haven’t tried to turn it into a movie franchise yet (Snake: The Lengthening), complete with a third-person cover shooter movie tie-in that feels nothing like the original game.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        No, if ever there were a game for Grasshopper Manufacture to develop, it’s Snake. Third-person cover simply isn’t asking enough of a franchise with as much integrity as the Snake series. I won’t be satisfied until Snake devours himself and, in doing so, discovers that he’s actually seven different assassins, each of whom have been sent to recover a different princess from a different castle in a different region of hell, all while the vampires of famous composers force them to undergo a rigorous series of trials, once of which involves as rabid mongoose, or is that a rabbit mongoose, or just a Jamaican goose? 

        If that seems a little heavy, don’t worry; it’s held together by graphics that throw back to the 8-bit era, and it pays serious homage both to the slasher films of the late ’80s and the Kirby series.

        • Merve says:

          I don’t know if it’s a positive comment on your creativity or a sad comment on the lack of batshit insanity in gaming to say that I would play the hell out of that game.

  7. TheLivingTribunal says:

    Obscure MST3K reference in the title or am I giving gameological too much credit?

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Or are you giving them too LITTLE credit? Don’t you know that this whole thing is just an evil plot to make us spend so much time playing video games on our little hamster wheels that we power a super-secret world-domination ray?

  8. bunnyvision says:

    Pretty standard Flixel stuff. The font, the effects, the transitions, all pretty much straight-out-of-the-box Flixel library.