Much like its namesake, the classic mobile game Snake quite frequently casts off its outdated old skin and slithers onto the App Store boasting a sheen of upgraded graphical loveliness, snazzy new gameplay tweaks and/or with an attention-grabbing adjective tacked in front of its title. Case in point? Clawhammer-Games’ über-sleek Snake remake-cum-homage, Hyper Snake (out now, $0.99).
However, this is no cynical cash-in or pointless clone; on the contrary in fact, Clawhammer have done a remarkable job of bringing pretty much every aspect of classic Snake — from the visuals to the controls — bang up to date while retaining what made that unassuming little game such a stupendously addicting time killer in the first place. Seriously, this may well be the most fun I’ve had with a Snake-alike since I wore the lettering off the keys of my ol’ Nokia 3210 obsessively playing the original.
After booting up Hyper Snake for the first time, I got stuck straight into its “Classic” mode — which is, as you’d expect, a modernized and more advanced iteration of the traditional ‘coast around a grid gobbling up power cells to grow your snake and achieve a high score’ schtick — and I’m delighted to say it’s just as instantaneously gratifying and compelling as ever. What’s more, Hyper Snake features the most incredibly natural-feeling tilt controls I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling.
Having said that, not everyone digs accelerometer-powered controls (even when they’re as precisely engineered and user-friendly as Hyper Snake’s are), so perhaps Clawhammer should look to last year’s Snake-inspired hit Hard Lines for a few pointers on how to best go about adding a selection of alternate control schemes to appease non-fans in updates. For example, I reckon something akin to the swipe-based set-up utilized in that game could also work well here and would largely circumvent any potential issues with one’s finger obscuring too much of the on-screen action.
When it comes to the game’s retro-hued, Geometry Wars-esque visuals, I’ve got absolutely zero complaints, and good as the screenshots are, it’s definitely worth noting Hyper Snake looks infinitely better in motion. “Mesmerizing” was the word that sprung to mind as I cruised around, oohing and aahing at the pretty graphics, silky-smooth animation and impressive visual flourishes such as how the ever-undulating backdrop changes color in accordance with the power cell you last absorbed and the explosive light show that’s triggered should you accidently run into your own tail. The game’s blend of futuristic electronica and arcadey sound effects compliments the action well and also deserves a shout-out.
Beyond the main game, Hyper Snake sports five more modes, each of which puts an interesting spin on the core gameplay. You’ve got a pair of against-the-clock modes dubbed “Split” and “Survive”; “War”, which pits your serpant against an army of self-aware enemy cells; the equally action-packed “Bombs”, and last but by no means least “Eat”, a ridiculously entertaining Snake/Pac Man mashup. I could probably devote an entire review to each of these bonus modes (especially the last one!), but suffice it to say, Hyper Snake comes packing a huuuge amount of content and offers a whole lot of bang for your buck!
Putting my earlier musings about a tilt-only control scheme to one side, the only real disapointment with Hyper Snake is that Game Center integration didn’t make this Version 1.0 cut, but Clawhammer-Games have already confirmed they will remedy this fact come update time.
iFanzine Verdict: Hyper Snake’s blend of accessable yet compelling gameplay and outstanding visuals can’t help but wow, while a generous glut of bonus gameplay modes should sate the appetites of even the most hardcore of Snake devotees. A must-have game that’s only likely to get bigger and better with updates.