Snake Ball


PsychotronicSnake BallThis is just the kind of unique thing I like to stumble across. Snake Ball is a little gem from the back catalog of John Nesky, author of the adorable Planet of the Forklift Kid.

True to the title, you play a snake beset by balls. Your job is to score a certain number of points within a certain time limit, by corralling the balls into a pit with your sinuous body. Green balls score a few points, and they have a calming effect on you. Red balls score twice as many points, but contact with them slowly drives you insane.

An insane snake is a disturbing sight, I'll tell you what. It twitches like it's being strangled.

Control your snake's head with the mouse, and the rest of you will follow. At the beginning, your tail will likely be a liability, flailing around and batting valuable prizes into the distance. With just a little practice, though, you can learn to encircle your targets with tight movements and drag them into the pit. Butting them with your head at just the right angle works, too, and random flailing is always an option if you get frustrated.

There are 23 levels, and they get pretty difficult. This is probably not a good game to play with a laptop track pad, or if you like to keep open beverages near the computer. Don't let me tell you what to do, though. Live on the edge.

Analysis: Snake Ball reminds me of Gregory Weir's Sugarcore, with its simple but readable graphics and creative approach to level design. Each challenge has a different twist, whether it be a new type of ball or an unusual limitation. One level gives you a short little snake body, forcing you to make all your points via head-bump. One takes away the time limit, but gradually sucks away your score as well. One type of ball instantly drives you insane if it falls into the pit, while another completely heals your troubled snake mind and awards you points for teetering close to the brink.

These are welcome variations, but the core gameplay is already well designed. You have to flirt with insanity to make points quickly enough, but if you gather one too many red balls, your spasming body will make you nearly useless. That creates constant tension, and the tricks each individual level plays mostly mix up the pace. I just wish there were some way of representing your score, time limit, and insanity level other than an unassuming set of gauges in the corner of the screen.

New elements enter the mix right to the end, and by the last level, the screen is chock full of different threats and scoring opportunities. It's about dancing with chaos. This game is a challenge for sure, but you're not afraid of a little craziness, right?

Play Snake Ball

10 Comments

Not bad, at least I'm not bored yet. I find it's quite easy to just make circles around the balls, this usually makes them go in. Then again, I'm not really on the harder levels yet.

Ahh! Stuck on level 9, obviously I've won all the previous levels. Any tips? My highest for level 9 is 4977/5000, yes I know its frustrating.

Wasn't this game featured already? I remember finding it here and playing it through and it was quite a long time ago.

Well, I guess it was a Link Dump or something. Anyway, a fun game, and not *too* difficult.

Level 12, i know i can do it, but only 14,800 so far... patience.

I like it!, Level 14 is very frustrating.

Woo SnakeBall!

John Nesky's a genius.

Some of his best known work isn't strongly tied to his name (he isn't particularly interested in who gets credit, though he is on the credits buried in the Options menu), but he co-developed the popular iPhone game Topple, which boasts 3 million+ downloads and was rated a top 10 game by Wired readers. He also created the gritty, gory art in the upcoming iPhone game iZombie Death March.

[Edit: Thanks for pointing out the connection! I added the link to Topple. Great game! -Jay]

Fun game - it all went smoothly for me until level 16! I'm not sure if it's the fatigue or I just keep cracking under pressure. Aargh!

This game is interesting! I like how depending on the situation, the seemingly-benign green balls can actually be the most annoying ones.

@Pixelated, for Level 9 you might find this helpful:

Full insanity + 'pink aura' + bright green = instant 6000 points. No speed required. :)

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