Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 5, NO. 6 / OCTOBER 1986

Game of the Month


Help a fright-crazed reptile survive


Take control of a panic-stricken snake and get ready for one of the fastest-moving BASIC action games you have ever played. Sssnake!!! works on all 8-bit Atari computers having at least 32K, with disk or cassette.

Hector the snakeIt 's midnight. It's starting to rain, and poor Hector the Snake has been caught napping in a dark corner of Farmer Brown's yard. Now, Hector does not like to get wet. He knows the rain makes the poisonous blue mushrooms grow and the giant blue pinch bugs pop their heads out of the ground. So he's frantic to escape through the exit gate. Your job: Don't let him-because he'll never make it out alive.

The problem is that this silly snake will eat anything under his nose when he's in such a frightened state. Use the joystick to steer Hector and keep him as healthy as possible. It won't be easy: this is one big, fast, squirmy snake.

Blue mushrooms contain a poison that affects his night vision, drains his energy and slows his pace. Fortunately, the rain also brings out the the good, yellow mushrooms and glow worms. Yellow mushrooms are the only cure for blue food poisoning.

Oh yes-Hector can stay dry by eating the raindrops. But if Hector carelessly bites himself, more raindrops fall, confusing him and making him shrink. However, now and then some new snakeskin appears (flashing like Hector's tail), and eating it makes him grow. Unfortunately, deadly pinch bugs like fresh snakeskin, too. If he eats one of these blue bugs, it will steal half of Hector's remaining energy


Sssnake"!!! has 15 difficulty levels, divided into three stages of five levels each. In Stage 1, it only rains when Hector bites himself, energy drains at only two points per second when he's poisoned, and bumping the fence only makes mushrooms grow.

In Stage 2, Hector loses three energy points per second, and eating blue food or bumping the fence makes him shrink. Stage 3 is the electric fence. If Hector bumps it, he shrinks and it rains. He also loses four energy points per second when poisoned. At the start of each level, Hector gets different amounts of energy points and rains a little harder.

If Hector can eat all of the raindrops before he falls below 250 energy points, he gets a double bonus. However, if he gets below 50 while raindrops remain, he turns a sickly green and a danger signal sounds. At zero energy, or if Hector shrinks down to one or two body sections, the round ends and he gets a bonus of the remaining energy plus ten points for each body section left. If he clears the screen of all raindrops, the reward also includes extra points for all that remains on the screen. Energy points are displayed at the bottom of the screen. Any key pauses the game and [START] will go to the title screen.


Type in Listing 1, SNAKE.BAS, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy before you RUN it. BEGINNING PROGRAMMERS: Make sure you type in every line-even the REM statements-and don't renumber the program. The game won't work unless you type in the listing exactly as published.

(Please note that Sssnake!!! was written by a professional programmer who used many BASIC "shortcuts" which Antic does not recommend to readers. These shortcuts include self- modifying routines, program lines that GOTO REM statements and GOTO statements which reference variables instead of numeric constants. The resulting code becomes unnecessarily difficult to trace and troubleshoot. -ANTIC ED)


Erosion in Farmer Brown's yard makes the raindrops fall in straight lines. Have Hector choose a long line of drops and eat them all in a row. Since yellow mushrooms are the only cure for blue food poisoning, it's not wise to eat them just for points. And don't let Hector too near the gate.

Although Sssnake!!! is programmed entirely in BASIC, Hector may be too fast for you. You can slow him down by inserting a delay loop into line 20, before the [START] key check. The line might look this with a delay loop:

20 FOR X=1 TO 100: NEXT X: IF PEEK (53279)=N6 THEN 2000

To make more yellow mushrooms (variable GM) grow on each screen, change one of the 420's and one of the 430's to 440's in the ON 23* RND(0) GOTO statement in line 415.

I still haven't told you everything about the game, though. There are a few surprises left, so keep on your toes.

Chet Walters' Non-Standard Magic company in Girard, Ohio is the publisher of Picture Plus, Lister Plus and Journal Plus. His Amazing Card Shuffler program appeared in the July issue of Antic.

Listing 1: SNAKE.BAS Download