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Chris Steel
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

Rattler is based on the old snake in a garden eating things game, but it has some unusual features to it. For a start off the snake is controlled with only two keys on a clockwise/anti-clockwise basis. The object is to eat all the eggs as they appear, but another unusual feature is that balls are sent sailing into the playing area and these must not be allowed to hit the snake on the head, although they bounce harmlessly off its sides. The snake must not hit any walls or double back on itself. Progressive screens offer more difficulty by adding walls inside the playing area. After the eggs on a screen have been eaten, a door opens up at the bottom of the screen for the snake to exit to the next screen. With each egg eaten the snake gets longer as well.

An option menu allows for the selection of playing speed (9) and level (15), and an extra life is gained


'As with the other Atlantis game Robot Rumpus, this one is a bit old fashioned, but well implemented generally, and quite good fun. I found the rotational control a bit confusing because the temptation to press a key twice (which ties you in a knot and kills you off) is quite strong, and an over-long key press will achieve the same thing of course. The addition of bouncing balls is novel and makes the game difficult. Although on the easier levels Rattler is playable, it does get rather hysterical on the higher ones, especially if you go for a fast speed! Not bad value at all, but again, I think it 's more likely to appeal to younger players.'

'No prizes for guessing what this one is. Rattler is a fairly reasonable version of the well known game which responds to keyboard play quite well The two clockt anti-clockwise keys are easier to use than four directional keys, but they take a little getting used to. The game has several options to make it more difficult but interest soon dies. l remember playing Spectrum games like this a/most two years ago! Budget software is okay for getting cheap old arcade versions, but let's try to go forward a little bit.'

'Primitive games never seem to lose their grip on the cheapo market. This one, I must say, must be one of the earliest type of programs written. Being primitive doesn't mean it's easy, if anything, totally the opposite to this. Although the idea is simple (just guiding your ever-stretching snake and collecting eggs while avoiding balls) it is extremely difficult to play. This is probably where its lasting appeal will come in, just to see how long you can get your snake. Not a game that I would tell you to all rush out and buy, but it does prove that an extremely simple idea can be quite effective.'

Control keys: N/M rotate left/right (use cursors on hiscore entry, this is not mentioned anywhere)
Joystick: not really needed but Kempston
Keyboard play: simple but hard to start
Use of colour: effective but simple
Graphics: simple, fast but smooth enough, the balls are effective
Sound: some tunes, not much else
Skill levels: 9 speeds, 15 levels, 4 ball difficulties
Screens: 15
General Rating: A simple game idea which works well because of the playing options, good value for younger players.