Snacks ‘N Jaxson, Arcade

Snacks ‘N Jaxson is one of the weirdest arcade games I’ve ever played in my life… It is beyond bizarre; it may even frighten children, or anyone who plays it, because it is so damn strange.

And it looks damn ugly too. The colours used in the game are unappealing, and the gameplay is also unnervingly jarring. Whoever designed it must’ve either taken a lot of acid back in the early Eighties, or been a John Wayne Gacy fanatic. Or both.

Using a trackball you control the head of a clown, called Jaxson de Box, who has the ability to stretch his neck extremely far. The aim of the game is to eat various snacks that appear on the screen, while at the same time keeping the clown’s nose bouncing outwards so that it doesn’t shatter the window behind him. If the nose does shatter the window, you lose a life. And you only get three.

A key rule to remember is that Jaxson must eat ALL the food on-screen BEFORE bouncing the nose back into the air (with his face). If Jaxson doesn’t manage to do that he’ll again lose a life. Or a “nose”, as the game puts it.

A chef character occasionally comes onto the screen to drop hazard items such as chilli peppers or bars of soap, which will stop the clown’s head from moving if swallowed, and therefore make it difficult to eat all the food in the brief time available before the nose bounces again. There’s a ‘sneeze’ button that allows the clown’s head to blow these undesirable items away, should he need to.

Each level is presented as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or midnight snack, with a bonus stage in-between. The bonus stages either require more nose-bouncing for extra points, blocking baseballs from dropping down to smash the window, or juggling multiple noses/balls at the same time…

This game is like watching a bouncing ball drop down into a box, but with gravity turned sideways. It’s fairly simple in concept, but goes against our intuition of how gravity works and it may make your brain hurt… It did mine.

I wasn’t sure if Snacks ‘N Jaxson was a license from a company or product in the USA (like a food product, or a chain of restaurants), but – having done a cursory internet search – that doesn’t seem to be the case. It just appears to be a weird standalone arcade game.

Snacks ‘N Jaxson was developed and manufactured by Bally Sente in 1984. I don’t know how many they made; I’ve never seen one before, but I did recently see a brand new refurbished cabinet for sale on US ebay for almost three thousand dollars. For God’s sake: do not buy it! It’ll not only give you nightmares for weeks, but it’ll also be the about the worst three grand you ever spent. Unless you like scaring children…

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