Features Side By Side

Side by Side: Snake, Rattle ‘N Roll (Genesis vs. NES)

When I was a kid the NES was all the crazy. My friends and I never grew tired of talking about or drooling over screenshots in magazines. Rare’s games never moved far from our conversations, Be it Battletoads, RC Pro-Am or Snake Rattle ‘n Roll and rightfully so as no matter what console Rare programmed a game for back then they made magic with. Snake Rattle ‘n Roll  was always a sleeper hit no mater who you ask, even now it doesn’t get much attention but anyone will tell you that it has that wonderful charm that only Rare could do and has that very abstract and dreamscapesque look and feel to it. Let’s take a look at both the NES version and the obscure Mega Drive-only release and see how they compare.

The Differences

Presentation: Both versions of this game pulls off the isometric perspective really well. Many programmers tried this style back then to mixed results but it works amazingly with Snake Rattle ‘n Roll. Both versions have Rare’s signature hair pulling difficulty present. The end stage screens are also redone for the MD as well with all new animations of the snakes attacking each other depending who got the high score for the stage. The biggest difference between the two games in the MD’s favor is the inclusion of a twelfth stage after you defeat the foot at the mountaintop in stage eleven. In the NES’ defense, the MD version was released three years later in 1993 so it needed the upgrades to make it feel like it belonged on a 16-bit console.

Edge: Mega Drive

Graphics: The graphics are obviously going to be much nicer to look at on the Mega Drive but the NES is darn near perfection as well and pushed the system to its limits. The graphics on the NES are crisp and defined but there’s some color blending in some stages. The MD version improves everything drastically while still retaining that original 8 bit charm. The enemies could’ve looked a hair better but I’m nitpicking there. The MD version is just pure eye candy in every way imaginable.

Edge: Mega Drive

Sound/Music: When I first played this game on the NES as a kid the music really stuck with me and most others have stated that it was memorable for its catchy and quirky music and unique sound effects. Everything made proper usage of the NES’ sound chip and really sounded distinctive. The Mega Drive version has many of the tracks as well but some of them are new or are arranged and most sound really cool and are quite catchy but there’s a few that seemed to feel like Rare struggled with the sound capabilities of the MD. The sound effects are also on the grating side as well.

Edge: NES

Gameplay: The Mega Drive version has slightly tighter control though only by a hair. The NES version allows you to fall one block further down before you die than the MD version so it’s definitely the version to start with. The bonus stages in the MD version are completely revamped. The NES has you running around a single screen eating a select number of Nibbley Pibblies, the MD gives you a timer and several different styles of bonus rounds and really makes them feel like bonus rounds instead of just extra rooms to find and is a great edition to the game.

Edge: Mega Drive

Other: The Mega Drive version is going to win here but only by a small margin. The NES version is truly a programming masterpiece on the NES that pushes the system to it’s max. Being that the Mega Drive version was released so much later with so many upgrades almost makes it a version 1.5. If you haven’t played either version before than start with the NES version and enjoy it then go to the MD as the experience will seem better as it may be hard to go backwards to the NES version. It’d be like watching the Lord of the Rings extended versions then trying to go back and watch the theatrical originals, the experience just wouldn’t be that exciting if you know what I mean. Rare did a great job with both ports and both are basically perfect as far as I’m concerned and it’s a shame that they didn’t give the same treatment their other MD games that started off as NES games.

Edge: Mega Drive


Final Assessment

The NES version is probably the version to start with due to the increased difficulty of the MD version but if you are up for a challenge then the MD will keep you coming back. Rare released Snake Rattle ‘n Roll three years after the NES version and sadly it never left Europe. It’s not an expensive game but it’s not cheap either and it also doesn’t seem to be readily available either so that is just one more hindrance to us Americans but don’t let that stop you from finding it if you love Rare’s games as it’s well worth tracking down for the Mega Drive.

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