Time for some history righting. Over the past few years laurels have been placed on the brow of many and varied games and platforms for spreading the lure of gaming to the casual and mass market. Angry Birds, Words With Friends, Draw Something…. but what about the gem that kickstarted mobile gaming? What about Snake on the Nokia 6110 handset?
Nokia, as a company, are currently somewhat in the wars – they’ve announced a new Lumia smartphone, but stupid businessmen in suits have seen it wise to drop their stock-price because of money reasons. On top of all that, it all happened in the place you go to in Modern Warfare 3 before the cool bit in the helicopter. It’s a sad state of affairs for the phone company that Snake built.
There was a time when Snake was the only mobile game that mattered. Well, it was the only mobile game. I was at University at the time, and during lectures I’d estimate that there were ten students collecting dots to make their reptile progressively longer at any given moments. On bus journeys to campus, you could safely double that. Forget today’s iPhone ubiquity, back then HSBC (nee Midland Bank) had a deal with Orange for their student accounts and every bugger had one.
Young men, young ladies, games fans and the easily bored all united under the flag of an ancient arcade game that found itself redistributed to around 350 million phones world-wide. Sure, that’s not exactly 648 million Angry Birds sales, but Snake was a vital stepping stone to the strange game-centric future we’re starting to live through. Bored people started to discover a classic game that harked back to simple times, and played it for free. (There were also two games on the 6110 called Logic and Memory. Anyone remember what the hell they were?)
My phone, however, didn’t have Snake. It was a crap Motorola phone that ran on AAA batteries, and played the Batman theme-tune at quarter-speed when it was running out of juice. I couldn’t even hear people’s voices when they rang, let alone play a seventies arcade classic on it.
It was presumably my distressed cries Nokia attended to, my need for Snake in a Snakeless world, when they came up with the N-Gage. (Which I’ve just realised sounds like ‘Engage’). That didn’t go so well. Snake didn’t exactly set the world on fire when reintroduced to the Lumia 800 either, to capture what Nokia called ‘latent affection’. Still though: ‘Snake! Snaaaake!’