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?