Saturday, October 6, 2012

Game of the Day - Snake Pit

Another golden-oldie made awesome by a unique combo control scheme.  In this particular case, you run around laying the smackdown on a bunch of snakes (& scorpions & other stuff) by employing the joystick and the trackball.

The controls won't seem entirely intuitive when you begin. In Snake Pit, you move around with the trackball and whip the snakes with the joystick.  So it's kind of half Centipede and half Robotron 2084.  The direction you push the joystick is the direction you whip.  The good news is that you can hold the js in that direction and continually keep whipping.  The bad news is you can only whip in 4 directions, not 8 (although the game's flyer talks about an 8-way js???).  This is very limiting and makes the game much tougher.

The game also has one button used infrequently. You can acquire a special amulet in the upper levels and if you do, you push the button to use it and give yourself temporary invulnerability.

One thing that makes the game difficult is the precision needed to cap the baddies.  You have to hit the snake in the head.  And the whip hit radius is small.  Also, the big scorpion has a red spot that is his weak area... good luck with that.

Many other details add to the fun...  As in many games, as you kill more snakes, the remaining ones become more aggressive and faster.  Their color indicates their eagerness to bite you.  Blue is the worst.  Some snakes start blue, kill them first.  When you are down to 3 snakes, they all turn blue and chase you down relentlessly.
There are also bonuses.  The top of the screen starts with a bonus for each stage and counts down as time elapses - as such, the faster you complete the stage, the more bonus you get.

There are a few other surprises, but in the end, this game is all about the constant running around and whipping, and how difficult it is to master using the trackball and js in combo like this.  Snake Pit is another example of early 80s gaming when ingenuity was king.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you mentioned this one. We play this one a lot at my house due to the fun music and fast gameplay.