The History and Impact of the Snake Apple Game by Google

The History and Impact of the Snake Apple Game by Google


The snake apple game by Google, often simply referred to as Snake, is one of the most iconic and influential video games of all time. First launched on feature phones in 1997, Snake quickly became a worldwide phenomenon and helped usher in the era of mobile gaming.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the history and impact of the wildly popular Snake game Google. We’ll learn about its origins, gameplay, and the various versions that have been released over the years. We’ll also discuss how Snake revolutionized mobile gaming and became deeply ingrained in pop culture.

The Origins of Snake

Snake traces its origins back to the 1976 arcade game Blockade. Developed by Gremlin Industries, Blockade featured a simple concept where players maneuvered a line that grows longer around a playfield. This core idea was adapted and built upon in many future iterations.

The earliest version of Snake can be traced back to the late 1970s. It was included on the Gunpei Yokoi-designed Game & Watch series of LCD handheld units put out by Nintendo. Similar games like Squirm and Surround were also released for personal computers like the Commodore 64 during this time period.

However, Snake really took off with its inclusion on Nokia mobile phones in the late 1990s. Programmed by Taneli Armanto of Nokia, this version is perhaps the most iconic and well-known Snake Google game. It was included on Nokia’s 6110 and subsequent models, allowing it to reach a massive audience as Nokia phones proliferated.

The concept behind Snake is utterly simple. Players control a snake made up of multiple blocks. As the snake finds apples within the screen’s boundaries, it eats the apple, grows longer, and gains points. The key is avoiding running into the screen’s edges or the snake’s own body. This creates a challenging balance of offense and defense.

Gameplay and Mechanics

The Nintendo and Nokia versions established the canonical Snake gameplay that most people are familiar with.

The snake starts as a small line made up of three blocks in the middle of the screen. Players use the directional pad to control which way the head of the snake moves. The snake automatically grows longer with each apple consumed.

Apples spawn in random places within the borders of the screen. Eating an apple makes the snake grow longer and scores points. If the snake hits the screen’s edges or itself, a life is lost. The game ends when all lives are lost.

Beyond this core gameplay, different versions of Snake have added their own mechanics and flourishes. Some notable additions include:

  • Obstacles like walls that block the snake’s path
  • Powerups that make the snake move faster, grow longer, or gain other abilities
  • Multiple snakes or players competing against each other
  • Bosses and enemies that can defeat the snake
  • First-person and 3D modes that adopt new camera angles

These built upon the simple formula that made Snake so addictive and compelling.

The Many Versions of Snake

After Snake’s explosion in popularity on Nokia phones, it spawned countless remakes, iterations, and ports. Here are some of the most significant and memorable versions:

Snake ’97

This is the original Snake game developed by Taneli Armanto and included with Nokia 6110 phones in 1997. Its smashing success ensured Snake would be included in many subsequent Nokia models.

Snake II

The sequel Snake II brought minor enhancements like improved graphics and sound to the original Nokia game. It came pre-installed on various Nokia phones during the early 2000s.

Snake ’97 Remix

Nokia released this remake of the original Snake ’97 for its new generation of smartphones like the Nokia N70. It included updated visuals and new music.

Snake EX

Snake EX was a 3D remake developed by Gameloft for Java enabled phones in 2001. It brought Snake into 3D for a fresh take on the classic formula.

Snake Eater

Included on the Nokia N-Gage in 2003, Snake Eater added maze-like environments, power-ups, boss battles, and two player modes to the proven Snake gameplay.

Snake for Facebook

Zynga brought Snake to Facebook in 2010. This version includes levels, unlockable skins, and online leaderboards and multiplayer. It helped introduce Snake to a whole new audience.

Google Maps Snake Game

In 2015, Google surprised many when they added a fully playable version of Snake to Google Maps accessed on Android, iOS, and desktop browsers. It could be launched by tapping the menu in the corner of Google Maps. This brought Snake back into the zeitgeist.

Snake vs Block

Nokia revamped its classic game as Snake vs Block for iOS and Android platforms in 2017. It adopted squarish graphics and added obstacles, power-ups, daily challenges and tournaments to modernize gameplay.

The Rise of Mobile Gaming

Snake was perfectly suited for the constraints of early mobile phones. This allowed it to become a true killer app that fueled the popularity of mobile gaming.

The fact that it was so pre-loaded on millions of Nokia phones allowed Snake to reach a massive audience no other game could match at the time. For many, Snake was their first taste of gaming on a mobile device. It quickly became a favorite time-waster for users around the world.

Despite the limitations of early phone displays and processors, Snake offered a fun and replayable experience. It was easy to pick up and play, yet hard to master. This combination of accessibility and challenge made it hugely addictive.

Snake proved there was a market for quality video games on phones beyond just gimmicky efforts. After Snake’s breakthrough, phone manufacturers and mobile game developers began taking mobile games much more seriously.

Snake ushered in the wider adoption of mobile gaming that paved the way for future advancements. It helped spawn a market that would eventually give rise to mobile gaming juggernauts like Angry Birds and Candy Crush.

The simple concept, engaging gameplay, and mass market reach of Snake demonstrated the potential of mobile as a gaming platform. It marked a seminal moment that set the trajectory for the entire mobile gaming industry.

Snake’s Impact on Pop Culture

Being installed on over 350 million Nokia phones at its peak, Snake had an enormous influence on pop culture across the globe.

Several generations have nostalgic memories of playing Snake on their Nokia phones. It became a cultural touchpoint associated with the 90s and early 2000s. The game was especially popular with younger users. Kids would gather around phones at school to take turns setting new high scores.

The game became ingrained in society in subtle ways. Phrases like “Snake it!” emerged as slang when someone performed an impressive, winding movement. The distinctive Snake ringtone was ubiquitous in public places during the game’s heyday.

Snake worked its way into mainstream media as well. The game has made cameos in songs, TV shows, and movies as a way to demonstrate someone is preoccupied with their phone. Perhaps most memorably, actress Tilda Swinton actually played Snake on screen during a theatre scene in 2013’s The Zero Theorem.

Nokia often used Snake in its marketing and brand identity. Several Nokia phone models were named after the game like the Nokia Snake XE, and Snake has appeared in various Nokia print and TV advertisements. This helped solidify Snake’s branding and mindshare.

Can Snake Still Thrive Today?

While Snake is unmistakably a relic of a past mobile gaming era, the question remains if it still has longevity in the modern day.

On one hand, Snake may seem outdated compared to the types of engrossing, big-budget games that rule the mobile scene currently. Phones have evolved to be capable gaming machines that allow for much more graphical gameplay innovation. Simple 2D games have ceded ground to lush 3D environments and multiplayer experiences.

However, Snake retains an appeal no other mobile game can match. Its gameplay concept is timeless. As a puzzle game, it stimulates the brain with its balance of reflexes, strategy, and spatial reasoning. And it remains instantly accessible and satisfying in quick play sessions. Snake requires no tutorials – just pick up and play. This is a hallmark of iconic game design.

These virtues mean Snake is still commonly included among the catalog of games on various platforms. Developers recognize Snake’s brand power and ability to engage players of all types. Each new iteration aims to offer some new twist. But most retain the classic core that made Snake so special. If this heart of Snake is preserved, it seems poised to slither onward into the future. Snake has already proven its longevity over decades of change in the mobile landscape

No game has the mystique or nostalgic lure of Snake within mobile gaming. The legend of Snake seems certain to grow as new generations discover this iconic classic.


In looking back on the history and impact of the Snake game by Google, it’s clear this simple mobile game penetrated popular culture and dramatically influenced the trajectory of the mobile games industry in an enormous way. Thanks to its ingeniously addictive gameplay, mass distribution, and branding power, Snake slithered its way into significance. Even today, Snake remains one of the most beloved and recognizable titles in gaming. For introducing millions worldwide to the joys of mobile gaming, Snake will forever hold an esteemed and fondly remembered place in video game history.

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