Sawbuck Gamer


Whither The Slither?

Snakeman tries to gussy up Snake, and it doesn’t quite take.

By Matt Crowley • September 12, 2013

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

Ketchup is the great white shark of condiments. Not because whatever it approaches ends up covered in viscous red liquid or because fourth graders are obsessed with it, but because ketchup, like sharks, achieved evolutionary perfection early in its existence and never had to adapt. It’s hard to imagine something more ideally suited to its purpose than a bottle of Heinz or a great white. The classic arcade game Snake also fits the bill. Since its introduction in 1976, it has become pervasive on Nokia phones and as an easter egg on game websites and (until 2012) on YouTube videos, remaining largely unchanged throughout. You’re a snake, you eat little dots on the screen that make you longer, and you try not to bump into anything.

Snakeman attempts to shake up this winning formula. The familiar serpent is there—slithering around, avoiding obstacles—but it’s joined by a little guy trying to reach his hut on the other side of the screen. You must help snake and man work in harmony to avoid an escalating set of pitfalls and arrive home. The puzzles are clever and challenging, and controlling both characters gives your multitasking muscles a workout, but the game has an unwieldy and busy feel, more frustrating than delightful. Like purple ketchup or sharks with laser beams attached to their heads, Snakeman is novel and fun, but it inevitably falls short of the original.

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13 Responses to “Whither The Slither?”

  1. mizerock says:

    My mind was blown when I first discovered there are other ketchups besides tomato. I really want to buy banana ketchup but Dorothy points out that I already have way too many condiments in the house.

  2. mizerock says:

    I just read that they haven’t made the purple stuff since 2006. I should probably finish that bottle in my fridge. Fortunately, I think I finished the green variety a while ago.

    We are registering for a “beer + condiment” refrigerator.

  3. Merve says:

    This game is infuriatingly difficult and impossible to control. I think it could work as a co-op game, though, with one player controlling the character and the other controlling the snake.