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Snake (video game)

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Title: Snake (video game)  
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Subject: Snakeball, Blockade (video game), Nokia 5210, Nokia 8810, Snake (disambiguation)
Collection: 1978 Video Games, Linux Games, Mobile Games, Snake Games, Trs-80 Games, Windows Games
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Snake (video game)

Snake on a TRS-80
Snake on a PC with a Color Graphics Adapter
Snake game on a Telmac 1800, CHIP-8, published 1978 [1]

Snake is a game where the player maneuvers a line which grows in length, with the line itself being a primary obstacle. There is no standard version of the game. The concept originated in the 1976 arcade game Blockade, and its simplicity has led to many implementations (some of which have the word snake or worm in the title). 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.


  • Gameplay 1
  • History 2
  • Nokia phones 3
  • Legacy 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


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 another obstacle.

The Snake concept comes in two major variants:

  1. In the first, which is most often a two-player game, there are multiple snakes on the playfield. Each player attempts to block the other so he or she runs into an existing trail and loses. Surround for the Atari 2600 is an example of this type. The Light Cycles segment of the Tron arcade game is a single-player version, where the other "snakes" are AI controlled.
  2. In the second variant, a sole player attempts to eat apples by running into them with the head of the snake. Each object eaten makes the snake longer, so maneuvering is progressively more difficult. Examples: Nibbler, Snake Byte.


The Snake variety of games dates back to the arcade game Blockade,[2][3] developed and published by Gremlin in 1976.[4] In 1977, Atari, Inc. released, as an unofficial port, an early home console version of the Blockade concept, titled Surround.[5] Surround 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 launched for the Bally Astrocade as Checkmate.[6]

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,[2] 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 computers. A microcomputer port of Hustle was first written by Peter Trefonas in 1979 and published by CLOAD.[7] This was later released by Milton Bradley for the TI-99/4A in 1980.[8]

There are several versions of Snake on the BBC Micro. 1982's Snake by Dave Bresnen is different in that 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 are no "lives", making achieving a high score or reaching higher levels relatively difficult as one mistake means starting from the beginning.

Nibbler is a single-player arcade game released in 1982. Another single-player version is part of the Tron arcade game, themed with light cycles.

Starting in 1991, Nibbles was included with MS-DOS for a period of time as a QBasic sample program.

Nokia phones

Snake II screenshot from a Nokia 3310, showing level 4 and maze 2.

Nokia is well known for putting Snake on the majority of their phones. Versions include:

  • Snake - The original, for monochrome phones. Graphics consisted of black squares, and it had 4 directions. It was programmed in 1997 by Taneli Armanto, a design engineer in Nokia[9] and introduced on the Nokia 6110.[10]
  • Snake II - Included on monochrome phones. Snake improved to a snake pattern, introduction of bonus bugs, a 'Circumnavigate play area' and mazes (obstacle walls placed within the play area). An example of a phone with it installed is the Nokia 3310 from 2000.
  • Snake Xenzia - Included on later-model monochrome phones (and some cheaper color phones, such as the Nokia 1600). An example of a phone with it installed is the Nokia 1112 from 2006.
  • Snake EX - Included on color phones. First introduced with the Nokia 9290 Communicator in 2002. Graphics improved to SNES quality. It supports multiplayer through Bluetooth and Infra-Red. An example of a phone with it installed is the Nokia 6260 from 2004.
  • Snake EX2 - Introduced with the Nokia 3100 in 2003. This is included in several Series 40 handsets by Nokia.
  • Snakes - A 3D version. This game was designed for the N-Gage in 2005, developed by IOMO (published by Nokia). It featured multiplayer through Bluetooth. Graphics improved to basic PlayStation quality. Introduction of hex levels, etc. Later Nokia started giving this game pre-installed (without multiplayer feature) in some Nseries smartphones like N70, N73, N80, etc. Snakes can be downloaded from the Nokia support page's Games section and played on any S60 device.[11]
  • Snake III - A 3D version, different from Snakes. Snake III takes a more living snake approach, rather than the abstract feel of Snakes. An example of a phone with it installed is the Nokia 3250 from 2005. It is also available on the Nokia 5310, Nokia 5610, Nokia 2700 classic,[12] Nokia 2730 classic and the Nokia 6300, and it supports multiplayer modes via Bluetooth.
  • Snakes Subsonic - Sequel to Snakes, released on May 22, 2008 on the N-Gage platform.

On November 29, 2012, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City announced that the Nokia port of Snake was one of 40 games that the curators wished to add to the museum's collection in the future.[13]

Snake is still included on some new low-end phones from Nokia, such as the Nokia 108 from 2013.


  • A sequel to the original Snake, titled Snake Rewind, was released on 14 May 2015 for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.[14]
  • A game called Snake '97 was created for iOS, Android and the Windows Phone; it was released in 2014.[15]
  • Laser Snaker, a game developed by Poppy Soft was released in 1983 (before the Nokia version) and was for the ZX Spectrum.[16]
  • In the movie and video game Tron, there is a vehicle called a "Light Cycle" which will leave a trail where they've been, killing any enemies or themselves if they drive into it.
  • The indie game Snakebird utilizes the mechanics of Snake in the context of a puzzle game.[17]
  • When watching a video on YouTube while it is buffering, pressing one of the arrow keys will start a game of Snake using the loading wheel as the snake. The game is controlled with the arrow keys.


  1. ^ Tieturi 2/1985 ISSN 0780-9778
  2. ^ a b Gerard Goggin (2010), Global Mobile Media,  
  3. ^ Rusel DeMaria & Johnny L. Wilson (2003). High score!: the illustrated history of electronic games (2 ed.).  
  4. ^ "Blockade video game, Gremlin Ind, inc. (1976)". 2008-04-04. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  5. ^ Blockade at the Killer List of Videogames
  6. ^ Rusel DeMaria & Johnny L. Wilson (2003). High score!: the illustrated history of electronic games (2 ed.).  
  7. ^ "You have 4537 of 4549 known Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 - Model I games". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  8. ^ "Retrogaming Times Monthly 7". 2005-01-01. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  9. ^ More, James (2009-01-20). "History of Nokia part 2: Snake | Nokia Conversations - The official Nokia Blog". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  10. ^ "Taneli Armanto: Snake Creator Receives Special Recognition".  
  11. ^ neoncherry (2007-08-12). "The Unofficial Nokia Gaming Blog: Snakes for S60 Download". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Matulef, Jeffery (May 6, 2015). "Snake mobile developer is making a sequel".  
  15. ^ Gonzalez, Neil (May 2015). "How to Play the Classic Snake '97 Game on Android, iOS, & Windows Phone".  
  16. ^ "Laser Snaker".  
  17. ^

External links

  • guideSnake II at StrategyWiki
  • List of snake-like games at Mobygames
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