Review: Even Indiana Jones would like these snakes.
The 2D version of Snake slithered into the hands of more than 400 million people in the form of a mobile game from Nokia. So there's a good chance you either owned the game on a cell phone or had the opportunity to play it on a friend's phone. This bare-bones, but addictive monochrome game returns in an evolved 3D and colorful state that every N-Gage owner should posses, partly because it's free and partly because it's as just fun as the original.
Snakes starts off slowly in the beginning to teach players the basics. The first level consists of maneuvering the always-moving snake, avoiding walls and your own tail, and collecting green items that allow your snake to grow and advance to the next level. These aspects may be reminiscent of the original game, but the N-Gage allows the series to shed Snake's limitations and offer even more complex gameplay. For example, starting with the second level, a string of blue diamonds appears as soon as you collect the green energy power-ups. These diamonds are in a path of about a dozen or so and must be collected together in order to clear the set. Miss one and it means you'll have to turn the snake around to collect the dozen all over again while worrying about the time expiring. It's especially tricky when the path wraps around multiple curves that require precise timing to complete, but the challenge is greatly welcomed since it adds a lot to the gameplay.
Collecting the green energy power-ups and blue diamonds reduces the evolver bar, which enables you to progress to the next level once it's empty. This is the basic goal of the single-player mode, which spans an adequate 36 levels and includes a bunch of bonus stages, too. At first, levels take place on a bunch of normal-looking square tiles. However, once you reach the seventh stage, it switches to hexagonal tiles, which call for maneuvering the snake differently and attempting to make tighter turns. Even cooler than hex tiles, though, is the snake's ability to travel on the underside of the tile floor. This further complicates the game as collectables appear both above and below, making the title of snake master more demanding than ever.
Another new element thrown at snake masters is the ability to take on damage, unlike the original where players died upon immediately touching a wall. There's a shield pick-up that can be activated to protect your snake for a limited amount of time. This is helpful because the game tosses in enemies once in a while and there's much more to avoid given each level's size. Other scattered items include letters that spell "N-Gage" or "Snakes" for extra points and boost pick-ups that supply your snake with the ability to speed up and slow down. While the boost was essential for getting through certain levels in time, I didn't once need to slow down to complete the game. It's all about maneuvering well from the start and whittling down the evolver bar in the end.
In addition to the fun and addictive nature of the single-player mode, Snakes offers a multiplayer experience via N-Gage Arena. This is very rewarding because others can either download the game or you can "infect" (in other words, send) them a copy of the game via Bluetooth, both options free of charge. Thus, no one needs to own a MMC card in order to play this four-player mode. Also, multiplayer doesn't require finishing a level first or achieving a higher score separately, but places everyone together on the same stage. So, as a player slithers around the 3D maze, there are three other snakes packing special multiplayer power-ups that can take them out at any time.