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SCORES EXPLAINED:

5.0 Perfect
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4.0 Very Good
3.5 Good
3.0 Fair
2.5 Weak
2.0 Poor
1.5 Bad
1.0 Terrible
0.5 Atrocious
0.0 Your Mom


Funkmaster V Reviews


7800 Rank: Not Ranked

Genre: Maze Game

Awards: None
These Worms Identify as Snakes... So We Gotta Call Them Snakes. Pros: Approachable Maze Game with Unique Gameplay
Cons: Plain Graphics/ Sparse Sound
Trapped Like a Rat! I mean a Worm! I mean a Snake!


Overview: Serpentine was a game I bought just to complete my homebrew collection, but I didn't have much hope for enjoying it. It reminded me of the 7800 homebrew "Worm!" Unfamiliar with Worm!? Well, Worm! was a game that takes one of the least appealing animals imaginable, an earthworm... combines
it with cruddy gameplay and added an exclamation point for street cred. It... how to put this... Sucked! Serpentine's screenshots looked very similar, so I was kinda bummed about forking over the dough for it. And the game manual purports that we are commanding mighty snakes in a maze in some weird dystopian future where humans are rendered worthless, so that didn't help. And let's address the Elephant! in the room... these things are worms - not snakes. But... after driving these earthwormysnakey things around these mazes for a bit, I was pleasantly surprised. This game has an enjoyable vibe unique to the 7800 library, and if you have the scratch, it's worth picking up.

Graphics: Serpentine is another game that is simple and clean looking but is pretty unimpressive the first time you lay eyes on it. Like that homely girl in home room... you know the one. With some coaxing, she might let you touch her boob. Anyways... the snakes look like worms, the eggs look like poop, and the frogs... well, they look like frogs. Each level presents a new labrynth... some more difficult to traverse than others. The maze walls stay blue the entire game, resisting new color schemes on new levels like many titles tend to do. Unlike many recent 7800 home brews, there's no title screen which feels a bit odd for an Atari Age game.

Sound: This is a quiet game. The splash screen pops off the sing-songy "have you played Atari today?" jingle, but after that... it would be a good game for a public library. No need to "shhhhh" it, it doesn't make much noise. There is a soft shuffling noise that repeats itself the whole game. The frog ribbits nicely, there's a ditty when you die or finish a level, and the pooping out an egg sounds gloriously magnificent.

Gameplay: The convoluted story in the game manual is so dumb it makes for a fun read. But never mind the bull in the book, Serpentine is really a simple game of "tag". The snake (or worm) you control is let out in this maze. Shortly after you position yourself, three other worm-snakes are let out into the corridors. If you touch the other snakes and they are bigger than you, they will gobble you up. So... you either have to grow bigger than them or you have to attack from the rear, so cue up Parliament's "Theme from the Blackhole" on the jukebox. WE ARE ABOUT TO BLOW THROUGH SOME DOUBLE ENTENDRES! You eat one segment at a time, and eating the last segment will totally destroy the enemy worm-snake. If you wanna increase the size of your snake (so many jokes... so many jokes...) you can eat the frogs that randomly hop around the maze and grow a segment per amphibian meal. If you manage to get big enough, you can attack smaller snakes from the front and kill 'em quick. When you grow larger than an enemy, the enemy becomes afraid and turns white (so many political jokes... so many jokes). If you hit an enemy snake head on and you guys are the same size... the computer kills YOU. I know... thems the breaks, kid. But look at it this way... you are a person with a full life and you get to eat pizza and you touched that boob... so you DO win in the end. Let the computer have this one.

Originality: Serpentine is a port of an Atari 8 bit computer game, but I never played it. Although this is another maze title for the Prosystem, it doesn't play like Pac Man at all, it feels more like the old cell phone game Snake and a little like the cycling portion of the arcade game Tron. There's an odd mix of offense and defense you are playing at the same time, and a single level can last several minutes as you wait for your opportunity to strike on the opening 3 vs 1 melee.

Value: Atari 7800 games are famous for having multiple difficulty levels, and the modern Homebrew titles normally have a plethora of modes. Serpentine does not have either of these. Like I said before, there's not even a splash screen, so what you see is what you get. A few gameplay wrinkles add some real life to this cartridge, however. When your worm, I'm sorry, your snake poops, I'm sorry, lays an egg, the enemy snakes can eat it and grow larger. Conversely, you can eat what the manual describes his "an ugly, orange, frowny face egg" laid by your rivals to grow your snake larger (so many jokes... so many jokes...). One really cool caveat is that if you end a level with one of your poops, I'm sorry, your eggs residing safely in the maze, it will mature into a tiny snake and crawl back home with you, adding another snake to your brood (that's a cute way of saying that's an original way to earn an extra life). Like Mike Saarna's other games, your point total is assigned a rank at the end of the game. You might end up a legless lizard, a cottonmouth, or even a Monty Python. Would you like some Spam?

Overall: I can't tell you how pleased I am with this nice little title. It totally blew my expectations out of the water, because admittedly they were pretty low. People who aren't excited about the existing 7800 Pac-Man hacks but would enjoy a new type of maze game will dig on this one. This title is about as unique as KC Munchkin or Baby Pac-Man. It's simple, it's stripped down, but it works! Serpentine is an interesting knife fight that blends cagey defense with a mad rush of offense when the opportunity presents itself. But no matter how nice I am in this review about this homebrew title, those aren't freaking snakes, man. Those are damned worms. And those are poops. Those... are... poops.

Other Reviews:
The Video Game Critic: D+

Additional Info: I would like to take this time to thank Atari Age for allowing the use of his screenshots for this review.