You’re probably sick of playing Snake at this point. The concept has been rehashed into oblivion ever since it first showed up on arcade machines in the ’70s. Is it worth buying this stylish version of the game for the iPad? With the current control scheme, we don’t think you’ll consider it to be an enjoyable experience.
The aptly titled Snake HD includes two variations on the game, which change how the snake can move. In Classic mode, the game is grid-based, meaning the snake can move in one of four directions. Modern mode is more free-form, in that you have full control over every movement of the snake.
Both modes sport the same 30 levels as you progress onwards, but they differ in where walls are placed, often making the game quite challenging. Once you collect enough points, you must direct your snake to a portal that warps you to the next level. However, the lack of a level select screen is fairly disappointing, meaning you need to start at the beginning every time. You do have three lives, so you’ll get a chance to retry a level if you fail the first time.
The long and windy snake.
Snake HD’s point system is quite original. All items on the screen can be eaten, and the sooner you get to them after they pop up, the more points they net you. Neglect an object for too long and it will disappear. You can also use your boost right before eating something to gain extra points.
Snake HD also has a fun two-player versus mode. Players sit at opposite ends of the iPad and try to survive longer than their opponent. The trick to winning is to eat as many items as possible and block off the other player with your snake’s body, causing them to run into it.
Topping all this off is the flashy particle-effect vector art that looks surprisingly great on the iPad, with the background bending under your snake like in Orbital. Classic mode sports a retro take on the art style, but fuses it with a modern silhouette vibe. As you eat different objects, they become part of your snake.
This is all great, but what hurts Snake HD is the control scheme. It consists of two buttons along the bottom to turn the snake left and right. While this sounds easy enough, when the snake is facing down and you’re in the heat of the moment, there is a high likelihood that you’ll hit the wrong button and send the slithery creature crashing against a wall. The other option is modern mode, which makes controlling the snake even tougher since it’s hard to gauge how much it will turn. A more logical choice would have been a swipe method for classic, and “follow your finger” for modern.
Also missing from the game is online scoring. Without this we felt little reason to keep playing. Implementing these features would have been simple and free, so there isn’t much reason not to include them.
Unfortunately, a Snake game with a lot of potential is marred by poor controls and the lack of online scoring. It’d be an easy recommendation if these aspects were changed, but you may want to slither away for the moment.