Snafu (video game)

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Snafu cover.jpg
Designer(s)Mike Minkoff[2]
Composer(s)Russell Lieblich
Platform(s)Intellivision, Aquarius
Genre(s)Snake game
Mode(s)Single player, multiplayer

Snafu is a video game released by Mattel for its Intellivision video game system in 1981.[3] One of a number of snake games released in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Snafu features players controlling ever-lengthening serpents as they attempt to corner their opponents and trap them.

A version of Snafu was released for Mattel's short-lived Aquarius personal computer in 1983.[2][4]


Snafu contains 16 different game variations based around two game formats, "Trap" (12 variations) and "Bite" (4 variations). Before gameplay begins, players select the speed of the game, then the desired gameplay variation and finally the number of rounds (up to 99) for that game.[5]

"Trap" games may be played by either one or two players; if a controller is not used, the computer assumes control of that player's character. When the round starts, colored serpents appear on the screen inside a rectangular playfield and begin to grow. The object is to box in the opponents' serpents, forcing them to collide with the edges of the playfield or with another serpent, including itself. Players may move horizontally or vertically, although some variations allow diagonal movement. There also may be additional obstacles on the screen and/or two extra computer-controlled lines (for a total of four lines on-screen at once), again depending on the gameplay variation selected. Points are scored by the surviving player(s) whenever an opponent line crashes.[5]

"Bite" games are played by two players, with no computer-controlled opponents. At the start of the round, each serpent grows until it reaches a set length. Players must direct their serpents toward the tail of their opponent. Each time the head of a serpent contacts the tail of the opponent, the opponent serpent loses a segment. Segments are also lost if the serpent collides with the edges of the playfield or with an obstacle. After a period of time, serpents can regrow segments up to a maximum of double the original length. When a player's serpent loses all its segments, the surviving serpent wins the round.[5]


Programmer Mike Minkoff began work on the game under the working title Blockade+Snakes, which was based on the inspirations of the two game variations, the board game Blockade and a prototype handheld game developed by Mattel Electronics but never released.[2] As development continued, Minkoff began calling the game Ssssnakes!, to the point of including the name on the game's start-up screen.[2] However, Mattel had decided to name the game after the military acronym SNAFU, even though Minkoff believed there was no connection between the game and the acronym's meaning.[2]


Snafu was re-released as part of the Intellivision Lives! collection.

An updated version, Snafoo,[6] was announced for the Intellivision Amico.[7]


  1. ^ "Snafu".
  2. ^ a b c d e "Snafu". Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
  3. ^ "Snafu Release Information for Intellivision". Retrieved 2010-08-18.
  4. ^ "Snafu Release Information for Mattel Aquarius". Retrieved 2010-08-18.
  5. ^ a b c "Snafu instructions". Retrieved 2010-08-18.
  6. ^ "Intellivision Amico - Tommy Tallarico introduction + Q&A - Page 14 - Intellivision / Aquarius". Intellivision Entertainment.
  7. ^ "Intellivision® Reveals Initial Details For The Upcoming Amico™ Home Video Game Console!". Retrieved 10 October 2020.

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