The NES had so many goofy oddball games, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of them all. Snake Rattle ‘n Roll stands out from the hordes via upbeat jazz music, a bizarre (therefore original) sense of style, and fun cooperative gameplay.
You play as snake(s) appropriately named Rattle (and Roll). To get through the stages, you avoid or defeat strange, snake-hating enemies, from water-dwelling sharks to razor blade traps to giant, snake-crushing disembodied feet. Your objective is to get to the moon for reasons unknown. Placed at specific points in the level are pellet dispensers, which shoot out pellets which you can eat. The pellets try to avoid you in a different way each level; the early ones simply roll or walk, while later ones will bounce or fly away. In an interesting touch, the walking pellets have tiny white feet; after your snake consumes one, it spits out said feet. Likewise with the later wings, et cetera.
Eating serves a couple of different purposes. The first is that it lets you survive a bit longer against easy enemies. As you eat, you get additional segments added to your body, and if you’re hit you lose one. The second purpose is that it’s the only way to beat levels (aside from the warps scattered throughout early levels). Your snake has to reach its maximum weight, then stand on a scale to open a door. After going through the door, you’ve beaten the level.
The first purpose of pellets becomes irrelevant quickly. The game is full of spikes, the evil giant feet, anvils, and other evil things that kill in one hit. Jumping puzzles are quite tricky, especially in later levels. Dying to spikes or pits, however, is entertaining as your snake will make a high-pitched, plaintive “Aaaaaaaarrrrrgg” complete with text coming out as it falls.
Though it’s tough to beat, Snake Rattle ‘n Roll is a great little bit of entertainment. It was among Rare’s first games, and is definitely one of the cooler cooperative NES games, So long as your buddy doesn’t hog all of the tongue upgrades.