Mobile September – The History of Snake

My mum back in the monochrome mobile days had a Nokia phone like most people, there was no touchscreens, no colourful menus to select, no vibrant themes, just call and text, this was the Atari years for me when it came to mobile phones, I had no mobile phone at that time but whenever I could get it if my mum wasn’t using it there was some games, a few at best, you couldn’t buy them at this point or download them, yet they were made to be addictive as possible and one crowning champion of Nokia gaming was Snake. However, it didn’t start out on phones, in fact, it’s history dates back to the 1970’s.

The game actually dates back to the arcade game Blockadein 1976. In 1978, Atari released, an unofficial port, called Surround. This was one of the nine Atari 2600 (VCS) launch titles, and was also sold by Sears under the name Chase. That same year, a similar game was released for the Bally Astrocade as Checkmate. The first known personal computer version of Snake, titled Worm, was programmed in 1978 by Peter Trefonas of the US on the TRS-80 computer, and published by CLOAD magazine that same year and were also released for the Commodore PET and Apple II computers.

There were several versions of Snakeon the BBC Micro. 1982’s Snakeby Dave Bresnen was different, albeit the one we know. The snake was controlled using the left and right arrow keys relative to the direction it was heading in. The snake will get faster the longer it gets, and you get no lives, one try and that’s it, so if you’re going for a high score, it’s going to be difficult.

Several games used this mechanic like Tron – Light Cycle, Nibbler, SNAFU, Nibbles, Nimble Quest, Pizza Worm, Rattler Race and Snake Byte. But the one everyone knows is the Nokia port, first programmed by Taneli Armanto, a design engineer in Nokia and introduced on the Nokia 6110. So you control a snake, it gets longer when you eat dots, if you touch yourself, you lose, and that’s about it.

There were other versions for various Nokia phones like Snake II, Snake Xenzia, Snake EX, Snake EX 2 and many more. I remember playing the original game and it gave me such memories, in fact it made me realise that I played this game before playing any other console, the mobile phones was my first gaming experience, so thanks for the nostalgia Nokia, but there is another game that gave me a more challenging experience.

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