Review by Retro

Reviewed: 04/12/01 | Updated: 05/20/02

Rattlesnakes eat apples? I don't know....but this is a fun game

Note: Rattler Race is not a free game; it's Shareware.

In Rattler Race, as strange as it sounds, you control a yellow snake and attempt to devour all the apples on the screen. The majority of the apples are red, but certain ones will morph into yellow fruits at times. Red apples are worth two points and yellow apples are worth eight points (on the default Normal difficulty setting). Once you eat all the apples and there are no more of them to be seen on the screen, a small hole at the top of the level will open up. Make the snake go into that hole and you will be promoted to the next level.

But there are a few enemies in Rattler Race that want to get in your way and take all of your lives before you can eat so many apples that you will never have to go to the doctor again. In each level, there will be a green snake slithering around somewhere. Like the yellow serpent that you control, the green computer snake also eats apples and grows in length with each apple that is consumed.

Every time the green snake eats an apple, you will lose some points. If it escapes into the hole at the top of the screen before you're able to reach it, the hole will shut and more apples will appear all over the maze; this means you'll have to eat all the apples once again in order to force the hole open, but there will be no computer-controlled reptile in your way in that case.

The computer snake has some abilities that your snake doesn't. If the computer gets caught in a corner and doesn't have anywhere to go, it will just lose some of its length. The ball that is bouncing around in the level can't hurt the computer either.

However, there is a way for you to defeat the computer's snake, which will earn you some cool bonus points. Trap the snake in a way in which it has no possible way out, and you just might cause the evil, snake-eyed animal to lose all of its length, which spells death.

The other enemy that you must keep a cautious eye out for is a ball that continuously bounces around the maze. This ball looks small and wimpy, but it can pack a major punch. The ball can bounce off of anything, whether it's you, the computer's snake, the walls, the other barriers, or the apples. It's all right for the ball to bounce off of your snake's body, just as long as it doesn't hit you near the head. If the round, red ball hits your snake in the head, you will lose a life quicker than you can curse.

There are two other enemies that aren't really major enemies unless you make them your nemesis. First of all, your snake itself can be an enemy in a way. If you run into a wall or your own self, you will lose a life. Finally, the last enemy in this game is the time. At the top of the screen lives a horizontal bar. That bar slowly runs out as the precious seconds go by. If you don't make it out of the level before that bar becomes empty, the screen will refill with a new load of vulnerable apples.

Not only can you earn points for pigging out on apples and defeating the pestering enemy snake, but each time you complete a level, you will be given a certain number of points. Your gift of points for completing a level depends on which difficulty you're playing the game on, how much time is left on the bar, how many snakes and balls were on the screen when you finished your short-lived quest, and on which level you just finished (the higher the level, the more points you will get).

When your point total climbs past any of the 50's, you will earn an extra life. For instance, get above 50 points, 150 points, 250, and so on, and you'll get an extra snake to keep in store for later.

There are a total of 30 mazes in Rattler Race. They start out pretty simple, with few barriers and wide-open spaces, but they get progressively harder before you know it. For instance, in the first level, there are just two straight lines, or barriers, in the whole level. As you get further into the game and see the other levels, you will see tight squeezes and other patterns of lines and dots that get much more claustrophobic, making your apple-eating journey all the more difficult.

Also, for your sake, in some of the levels that have small squares as barriers included, from time to time those dots will turn into a small clock. Run over one of these clocks, and the time at the top of the screen will freeze, allowing you enough time to smoke a cigarette and engage in a phone conversation before having to worry about time again.

Rattler Race is simple to play. To play the game, you just have to maneuver the yellow snake around the maze. To do that, just use the four arrows on your keyboard. If you hold down any of the arrows, your snake will travel even faster, but so will everything else in the game.

When it comes to graphics and sounds, they're either not there at all, or they're pretty well done. The graphics are colorful and easy on the eyes. The snakes, balls, etc., don't have much animation to them, and the barriers aren't 3-D or anything to that degree; they're just basic, but well done visuals. There are no sounds in the entire game. No sound effects and no music will ever be heard from Rattler Race.

Finally, there are many options that allow you to enjoy Rattler Race even more while you play it. There is a list of high scores for the day (which work based on the time on your computer), and high scores of all time for the game, which is called the Hall of Fame. While you're playing, if you need to, you can pause the game anytime you want. There is a Help topic in which you can learn how to play the game or read about tips and strategies.

Best of all, there is a fair selection of extra options. There are four difficulty levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert. You can choose how many balls and how many snakes will be in each level, ranging from 0-3. Last, but certainly not least, you can select which level you start on, from 1-30.

If you ever have the chance to play or purchase Rattler Race, I definitely recommend it. I haven't played many Shareware games at all, but of the ones I have played, Rattler Race is the best. It's a lot of fun, it's challenging, and it can even be a bit addicting to try and get all the highest scores in your name. It's one of my favorite games to play when I'm bored out of my mind, or when I just feel like playing a basic, fun computer game.

I would give Rattler Race a 10, BUT the game does have just one flaw that I've noticed. From time to time (not often enough to ruin the game), when you collect all the apples, the opening doesn't open at all; the same unbreakable, blue wall just stays in place. This leaves you to just wait for the time to run out, which costs you a life. That's a bad glitch, but it's a minor one.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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