Nibbler (video game)
1982 arcade flyer
|Designer(s)||Joseph H. Ulowetz|
John M. Jaugilas
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Apple II, Atari 8-bit|
1983: Atari 8-bit
|Mode(s)||Single-player, 2 player alternating|
Nibbler is an arcade snake game released in 1982 by Chicago-based developer Rock-Ola. The player navigates a long snake through an enclosed maze consuming food along the way, while the length of the snake increases with each object consumed. The game was the first to include nine digits of score, allowing players to surpass one billion points. Home versions were published in 1983 by Datasoft for the Atari 8-bit family and the Apple II.
The gameplay of Nibbler has similarities to Pac-Man in that it features a player-controlled snake that continuously navigates 32 enclosed mazes, eating all food in its path while growing in length as the game progresses. The game features no enemies, and a life is lost whenever the snake bites its own tail.
Nibbler is the first video game to feature a nine-digit scoring system allowing players to score one billion points. The first to achieve this feat was a seventeen-year-old named Tim McVey, who scored 1,000,042,270 points on January 17, 1984, while playing continuously for 44 hours over two days at Walter Day's Twin Galaxies arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa. A local news crew arrived to film him on location as he closed in on the record. McVey stated in a 2016 interview that he quit playing on his own accord due to exhaustion after setting the mark. For his achievement, McVey, an Ottumwa native, had the day of January 28, 1984 declared in his honor. He additionally received his own Nibbler machine as a prize, which he later gave to a rival arcade in exchange for two hundred dollars worth in game tokens.
On September 27, 1984, Italian player Enrico Zanetti topped McVey with a 1,001,073,840 score, but it was not officially recognized by Twin Galaxies, who ultimately stopped verifying record scores for the game altogether; however, this score was grandfathered in retroactively as a historical record due to a new ruling that permitted significant and well-documented media coverage, although the former record was only officialized after McVey took back the record from Rick Carter. In September 2008, Dwayne Richard of Grande Prairie, Alberta, gained media attention when he fell short in his attempt to become the first player since McVey to officially surpass one billion points.
McVey's mark consequently stood for nearly three decades before it was surpassed twice, including once by Richard in 2009, but McVey was still recognized by Guinness World Records as the official record holder because these scores were never submitted for verification. Rick Carter of Glen Burnie, Maryland officially claimed the new world record with a score of 1,002,222,360 on July 31, 2011. McVey regained the mark on December 25, 2011, with a score of 1,041,767,060.
The documentary Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler, about the difficulties of achieving a one-billion point score on Nibbler, was released in 2016.
- Eyes, a Rock-Ola game with similar visual elements
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- "Interview with Nibbler Billionaire Enrico Zanetti". Retro Uprising. January 31, 2002. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
- Seay, Hayden (June 23, 2016). "Documentary 'Man vs. Snake' explores quest for gaming immortality". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
- "Man Vs Snake: The Long And Twisted Tale Of Nibbler". Calgary Underground Film Festival. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
- Brown, Gentry. "Documentary Feature MAN vs SNAKE: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler Coming June 24th". TriplePoint Newsroom. Retrieved 2016-05-24.