Snake is the common name for a video game concept where the player maneuvers a line which grows in length, with the line itself being a primary obstacle. The concept originated in the 1976 arcade game Blockade, and the ease of implementing Snake has led to hundreds of versions (some of which have the word snake or worm in the title) for many platforms. After a variant was preloaded on Nokia mobile phones in 1998, there was a resurgence of interest in the snake concept as it found a larger audience. There are over 300 Snake-like games for iOS alone.
The player controls a dot, square, or object on a bordered plane. As it moves forward, it leaves a trail behind, resembling a moving snake. In some games, the end of the trail is in a fixed position, so the snake continually gets longer as it moves. In another common scheme, the snake has a specific length, so there is a moving tail a fixed number of units away from the head. The player loses when the snake runs into the screen border, a trail or other obstacle, or itself.
The Snake concept comes in two major variants:
The Snake design dates back to the arcade game Blockade, developed and published by Gremlin in 1976. It was cloned as Bigfoot Bonkers the same year. In 1977, Atari released two Blockade-inspired titles: the arcade game Dominos and Atari VCS game Surround.Surround was one of the nine Atari VCS (later the Atari 2600) launch titles in the United States and was also sold by Sears under the name Chase. That same year, a similar game was launched for the Bally Astrocade as Checkmate.
The first known personal computer version, titled Worm, was programmed in 1978 by Peter Trefonas of the US on the TRS-80, and published by CLOAD magazine in the same year. This was followed shortly afterwards with versions from the same author for the Commodore PET and Apple II. A microcomputer clone of the Hustle arcade game, itself a clone of Blockade, was written by Peter Trefonas in 1979 and published by CLOAD. An authorized version of Hustle was published by Milton Bradley for the TI-99/4A in 1980. In 1982's Snake for the BBC Micro, by Dave Bresnen, the snake is controlled using the left and right arrow keys relative to the direction it is heading in. The snake increases in speed as it gets longer, and there's only one life; one mistake means starting from the beginning.
Nibbler (1982) is a single-player arcade game where the snake fits tightly into a maze, and the gameplay is faster than most snake designs. Another single-player version is part of the 1982 Tron arcade game, themed with light cycles. It reinvigorated the snake concept, and many subsequent games borrowed the light cycle theme.
Starting in 1991, Nibbles was included with MS-DOS for a period of time as a QBasic sample program. In 1992 Rattler Race was released as part of the second Microsoft Entertainment Pack. It adds enemy snakes to the familiar apple-eating gameplay.
Slither.io (2016) is a massively multiplayer version of Snake.
Nokia is known for putting Snake on the majority of their phones. Versions include:
In 1996 Next Generation ranked it number 41 on their "Top 100 Games of All Time", citing the need for both quick reactions and forethought. Due to the game's numerous incarnations, in lieu of a title they listed it as "Snake game" in quotes.
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