Genre: Maze Game Developer: Rare Publisher: Sega Europe Players: 1-2 Released: 1993
I first found out about Snake Rattle ‘n Roll in junior high school when a friend sold me his copy for the NES. From the first time I played it I knew I was going to like it and it easily became one of my all-time favorites. Fast forward several years, and I heard rumors of it being ported to the Genesis. I finally found a copy, but sadly it wasn’t released in the United States, and I’ll never know why as the game is remarkable. The game is played from an isometric view and has you controlling two snakes named Rattle and Roll. I don’t know what the original story is because the manual is pretty short, but a story isn’t needed for this game. You are trying to climb a mountain and take off in a spaceship to get back home to your planet. There are a total of twelve stages, and Rare lives up to its name again as the game is as brutal as Battletoads, if not worse.
Each stage is short and has you collecting extensions to increase the attacking range of your tongue, as well as Nibbly Pibblies, which resemble small balls and make your tail grow. The way to complete each stage is to make your tail grow long enough to make it flash then hop on a scale to open the exit door. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s remarkably fun and original, and later on it gets incredibly hard to find that scale without losing your tail from being hit by an enemy. There are a slew of other items and quirky enemies to kill, and all are bizarre, ranging from vinyl records to toilet seats to sharks. There are also bonus stages to collect extra Nibbly Pibblies. The bonus stages are completely new, and instead of running around and just collecting Nibbly Pibblies, you now have a timer and have three different bonus stages. It adds a lot of variety to the gameplay.
Later on you have to climb waterfalls and time jumps just right on moving water geysers, stages nine and ten are entirely on ice and sloped at that and are truly punishing for all but the most experienced SRnR players. There are loads of little secrets, and the game has several warps that are rather difficult to find and some are based on time. There are also hidden items everywhere. Playing this game with a second player is a true act of bravery since like Battletoads, it practically doubles the difficulty.
Now it’s down to the big question, does it actually feel like a 16-bit game? Yes it does. Many people have complained about Rare’s Genesis game ports and have said that they are lacking any real 16-bit graphics or upgrades. Well, Get ready for this! Snake Rattle N Roll has been massively overhauled this time around. The graphics are truly mesmerizing, and there are several upgrades as well, there are all new animations when you complete a stage. Whichever snake outscores the other will attack the other one with some weapon or object and it adds a nice touch after each stage. If you liked the graphics on the NES then the Genesis’ port will blow your mind. Everything is crystal clear and fluid and absolutely beautiful. There is more detail, better use of colors, less color blurring in the backgrounds and all around higher resolution. Unlike Battletoads and Championship Pro-Am, this game truly looks like it was overhauled for a 16-bit console.
The sound is the only thing that takes a hit on the port. The NES has some pretty catchy music, and it all translates pretty well here. Rare did the best it could here. The music in the last stages is tense and lets you know you are in for it and it’s one of my favorite video game tunes of all time. Some but not all of the sound effects are hurt here and sound a bit off, but the sound chip isn’t as clear as it needs to be, so I can forgive this issue as it’s a pretty minor one at that.
Now get ready for the ultimate treat, those of you who were actually able to beat the NES version need to play this version because after you beat the foot at the mountain top in stage eleven, you are treated to an all new and rather large final stage afterwards with as little gravity as the battle with the foot. When I found out about it I was in heaven. Rare took time with this game and made this port well worth it.
I can’t say enough about this game, it’s one of Genesis/Mega Drive’s sleeper hits you never even knew existed. Rare, why couldn’t you have brought this to America, WHY? I think the NES version is a perfect game and this port blows that one away, so I have to give this game a perfect score. It’s a shame this series was so short lived, it had ports on the NES and Genesis and an inferior, but still decent sequel for the Game Boy called Sneaky Snakes for those of you who care. The only way to truly appreciate the game in all its beauty is to have the patience of a saint and play through it, you won’t regret it. It’s Rare’s best Genesis game by a long shot.
SCORE: 10 out of 10