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.