The original cellphone casual game is back: Snake is being relaunched as Snake Rewind for Android, iOS and Windows.
While the game dates back in various forms to the 1970s, its most famous version came preloaded on Nokia phones in the late 1990s, right at the time that owning a cellphone became genuinely mainstream. That made it popular not only because it was on so many phones (an estimated 44 million), but because the idea of upgrading a phone frequently hadn’t really took hold. (Plus of course, Nokia handsets of the time were famously resilient.)
For those who haven’t had the pleasure, Snake simply involves controlling a very basic snake animation by changing the direction its head moves, with the body slowly following. The idea is to avoid the snake’s head crashing into its body while ‘eating’ food Pacman-style. The trouble is that every time the snake eats, it gets longer, increasing the risk of a collision.
While it was predated by the likes of Tetris, Snake was arguably the first ultra-casual game to pick up a following among people who’d think of themselves as non-gamers and would never buy a device that was primarily for gaming.
The designer of the Nokia version, Taneli Armanto, was made redundant from the phone giant last year. He’s now partnered with Rumilus Design to come up with a new version for touchscreen phones.
The gameplay looks remarkably similar in concept, with color the only addition to the still-primitive graphics. Inevitably it’s going for the freemium model, with the food (specifically fruit) acting as the in-game currency, meaning you can get extra benefits by either collecting the fruit in game or making a micropayment. One big gameplay change is the option to spend fruit to rewind play after hitting the “game over” point.
We await the first reports of somebody repeatedly playing the game when sitting near Samuel L Jackson on a flight.