Season 2, Round 4 of the Astrocade High Score Club will last about three weeks. This round ends on Sunday, April 30'th at 8pm MST. The main game is Sneaky Snake. The BASIC bonus game is Caterpillar.
Sneaky Snake is a 4K machine language cartridge released by New Image. It was programmed on the Astrocade by Dave Ibach and assembled using the General Video Assembler. This game tried to be true to the original arcade game by keeping Centipede's original vertical monitor setup, as in this screenshot:
Sneaky Snake may be the hardest to find cartridge on the Astrocade system. Luckily, it is included on (I think) all of the various releases of the multicarts for the Astrocade. Plus, it plays just fine under the Astrocade emulation in MAME.
ABC Hobbycraft's November 1983 issue of The Astrocade Underground newsletter said, "It's slipperier than a centipede, and faster than anything you've ever seen before-- it's Sneaky Snake, on cartridge for Astrocade from New Image Software! This hot version of an all-time arcade classic sends the Snake slithering among the mushrooms toward you. Shoot quick, and watch out for the Spider. Only $32.95."
Here is an ad for the game from page 4 of the November 1983 AstroBUGS Newsletter:
In the Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ, Michael White says that Sneaky Snake was released on September 24, 1983 at the Astrobash. Some versions of this cartridge have the label glued or taped over an original Bally MFG. CORP. label because Sneaky Snake used salvaged cartridge cases. You can see this here:
Peggy Gladden drew the label's artwork, which you can see better here:
The Sneaky Snake cartridge ROM image (called "sneaky.bin") is part of this archive:
You can read more about the development of Sneaky Snake in an interview with Dave Ibach that Paul Thacker conducted on February 27, 2006. In this interview, Dave placed Sneaky Snake into the public domain (thanks, Dave!).
As far as I'm aware, there is no manual for this game, but if you've played Centipede, then you'll take to this game quite naturally.
Sneaky Snake (Options):
Other than the number of players, Sneaky Snake has no options to enter before the game begins. There are no skill levels to select.
Sneaker Snake (Scoring):
Up to ten points are awarded for playing Sneaky Snake. For available bonus points, see "Bonus Points" section below.
Sneaky Snake Game Review
Sneaky Snake was reviewed in The Game Player column #16 by Michael Prosise in Arcadian 6, no. 4 (Feb. 23, 1984): 37. Here is the full review:
SNEAKY SNAKE New Image
This month, we take a look at yet another new cartridge, and a fine one, too. For all of you fans of the coin-operated Arcade game CENTIPEDE, this cartridge game by New Image is just the one for you!
SNEAKY SNAKE is a very colorful, enjoyable family game for one to four players. Each player starts with five "shooters," utilized one at a time. The T.V. screen will present the player(s) with a field of multi-colored mushrooms. At the top of the screen will appear the Snake, who will begin his decent downward, meandering over, under and around the mushrooms as he moves closer to you! At the bottom of the playfield is your shooter, which you can maneuver left or right, and slightly up or down. Using the trigger, you must shoot the Snake before he makes contact with your shooter. You may fire one shot at a time, or fire rapidly (machine gun-like) by holding the trigger in.
Each hit on any segment of the Snake awards you 50 points, and turns that segment of the Snake into a mushroom. Any mushroom or part of one that you shoot is good for one point. A single hit on the Snake will not kill him, however. The player must hit each circular segment that comprises the Snake in order to kill him. Be forewarned that a hit on any part of the Snake may cut him into two separate Snakes!
Upon elimination of the Snake, a new screen will appear. Each screen is different, both in color and intensity of play. The different background color for each screen adds visual variety to the game. The higher your score gets, the harder each new screen will be. The Snake will move faster each time, and the mushrooms will almost fill the whole screen.
Things can get rather hectic if you do not get the Snake before he reaches the bottom of the playfield. Once down, he will move left and right until you get him, or he gets you. If you take too long, new Snake segments will enter from the left and right, moving over, under and around your shooter!
There is no escape now. In your panic, be careful not to bump into a mushroom; you will be destroyed if you do.
If this is not enough to keep you occupied, there is another creature you must contend with: the Spider! That's right, folks: It's the old, pesky Spider trick. Periodically, a Spider will appear and try his best to pounce on you. He is good for 100, 200 or 300 points a shot, depending on how close you are to him when you shoot him. As your points get higher, each Spider will move faster and come at you continuously [more often].
SNEAKY SNAKE is an excellent cartridge game. Not only is the player presented with good graphics and full color, but his ears are treated to a fanciful and light-hearted tune throughout the game. And just as the action speeds up, so does the music, further adding to the enjoyment of playing.
Our players here really like SNEAKY SNAKE, and they're additionally pleased that a bonus shooter is awarded (at each 10,000 points). The game-play itself, along with the sounds and music, make this cartridge a real winner!
The BASIC bonus game is 1983's Caterpillar, by Thadd*Pro (Kevin O'Neill). It originally appeared as a type-in program in the newsletter Niagara B.U.G. Bulletin, 1.7 (September 6, 1983): 8-10. It was later reprinted in Arcadian, 6.10 (Aug. 24, 1984): 95. There is a 1986 revised version Caterpillar by Klaus Doerge. It's more colorful and adds a potentially higher score for multiple players. I played both games and I prefer the original version.
Caterpillar is an "AstroBASIC" variant on the classic videogame, Snake. In this case, you move a caterpillar around the screen, growing ever longer while you pick up items for points. Unlike other versions of Snake, you grow continuously, not only when you eat snacks. In my eyes, Caterpillar mixes Checkmate with Snake and comes up with an interesting variant.
Here are some screenshots from the game:
The brief directions from the newsletters are:
Caterpillar is a game of luck and skill. You control the direction of travel of your caterpillar and try to eat the floppy disks that appear on the screen. Be careful-- if you touch any walls or the trail that you leave, your head gets crushed and you die. You also die if the timer at the bottom of the screen runs out. There are an undisclosed amount of different screens and each one gets harder. Scoring works by the more time you have left the more points you score.
You can download the "AstroBASIC" version of Caterpillar here:
I noticed that in Caterpillar you'll encounter some issues with the gameplay due to the completely random distribution of the floppy disks that you must collect. This includes the disks appearing on your own trail! Just start another game and see if you can make it a little further on your next game.
Up to six bonus points are available this round for both games:
- Sneaky Snake (1 points) - Two-Player Game.
- Sneaky Snake (1 Point) - Beating Joe Adams' score of 56,457 posted on page 77 of the Scoreboard in the June 30, 1984 Arcadian issue.
- Sneaky Snake (1 Point) - Video Review - There is no quality video of Sneaky Snake on YouTube. Anyone who makes a video review of this game will get a bonus point.
- Caterpillar (1 Point) - Playing the bonus game.
- Caterpillar (1 Point) - Highest Score.
- Caterpillar (1 - 2 Points) - Video Review - Anyone who makes a video review of Caterpillar will get a bonus point. If, in the video, you compare it to various other Astrocade Snake-type games (which also have video), than you'll get two bonus points.
As we make our way through the Astrocade's small library of games, there are bound to be some games I don't like. For instance, the sports titles are, well, not my cup of tea. So, I'm glad that I like both of these games. Neither is graphically impressive, but both are fun.
Sneaky Snake is one of the few homebrew cartridge games that was created on its host console (i.e. not a computer system-- unless the Astrocade is a computer-- is it?!?). Caterpillar is pretty basic, but it's fun for a bit-- and unlike so many other BASIC games, I don't consider it too slow. In fact, if it was faster than it might be a bit too hard.