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What makes a good snake game?

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Snake games are one of the oldest genres around, and yet the genre itself is continuously pumped full of new life by aspiring game developers. Snake games are rather easier to develop, and in fact, developing a basic Snake game is a part of several programming language tutorials.

However, it’s up to the individual developer to put a unique twist on the Snake game genre, and that is what makes some snake games stand out more so than others, whether it’s due to modern graphics, or unique gameplay concepts.

In this article, we will explore the snake game genre, and highlight several titles within the snake game genre that have stood out over time.

The basics of the snake game genre

The snake game genre has roots dating all the way back to the 1970s, drawing influence from arcade titles like Blockade, Worms, and Nibbler. But it was cellphone manufacturing company Nokia that really popularized the snake game, with their series of games simply titled Snake on the earliest Nokia phones.

Fun fact: Snake is on over 400 million mobile phones.

In these Nokia Snake games, the premise was quite simple, yet highly addicting. Players controlled a ‘snake’ that grew in length as you consumed pellets, and gameplay became increasingly difficult as players tried to avoid colliding with their own body.

Nokia released several upgrades of the Snake title as cellphone technology advanced, though the core gameplay always remained pretty much the same. Although Nokia experimented with new levels and even 3D graphics on later cellphone models, it was up to the internet to really revolutionize the snake game genre.

A whole nest of snake games

While there have been plenty of snake games that closely follow the gameplay concepts laid out by Nokia, a few developers have put some truly unique twists on the original gameplay concepts. This includes titles like Little Big Snake and Slither.IO.

Because of the popularity of browser games, game developers have figured out not only how to modernize the snake game genre, but make them totally addicting. And while a lot of modern snake games might seem like clones of each other, the great thing is that each developer adds their own gameplay concepts, so that no snake game is really a straight-up clone of the previous.

Slither.IO is perhaps the most-played modern adaptation of the snake game genre, as it heavily incorporates MMO (massively multiplayer online) elements. Instead of playing solo, you are up against countless other players on a limitless map, all competing for the pellets to grow your snake.

Similar to the classic Snake gameplay, colliding with yourself will result in death, but so will colliding with other players. This adds an extremely strategic gameplay element, as you’ll figure out ways to sneakily coil yourself around the path of other players.

The main competitor to Slither.IO is Little Big Snake IO, and while the gameplay is almost identical, there is a very unique additional feature. You can play as the traditional snake on the ground, or you can play as a flying ‘juju’ beetle that circles around the action, landing to collect pellets.

So while both games appear almost identical on the surface, it is these key unique differences in gameplay that separate them.

Are snake games easy to develop?

For aspiring game developers, snake games are truly a great place to start. There are a ton of tutorials available online for helping you get started in creating a basic snake game, in easy-to-learn languages such as Python and JavaScript. Kind of ironic, one of the easiest languages for programming snake games is called ‘Python’, right?

In any case, due to the ease of development, the snake game genre is one that will continue to be popular due to the advent of technology and inspirational ideas from developers both veteran and beginner alike.

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