Blair Witch - Bloober Team's gamified take on the 90s' classic flick The Blair Witch Project - is a great game and all, but let's talk about what really matters here: Cobra Masters. That's the name given to a mini-game you can play in Blair Witch that is pretty much an exact replica of the super addictive mobile game Snake that dominated the lives of pretty much everyone with a Nokia cellphone in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Nostalgia Is A Witch
Blair Witch is set in 1996 - two years after the events in the masterful original film. Incidentally, this is actually a year before the official release of Snake which made its debut as a preinstalled game on the Nokia 6110 in 1997. But we can overlook this, after all it's not technically Snake– it's Cobra Masters. Besides, seeing as the game features shadowy nether-creatures and a whole lotta supernatural witchy happenings, we probably don't have to get too caught up on the absurdity of this minor inconsistency.
To add to the cool factor, the devs hit us with a double dose of déjà-vu by also including another mini-game dubbed Shooter Deluxe, which is a Space Invaders-esque tribute also very similar to Nokia's own Space Impact.
A touch of comic relief in a survival horror game like Blair Witch is almost always a welcome feature, and that's what these mini-games provide along with a sweet dose of nostalgia that certainly caught me by surprise. At pretty much any time during his terror-filled journey through the woods, our protagonist Ellis Lynch can whip out his suspiciously Nokia-esque mobile phone to play these games (and perform a few other tasks that actually further the plot, but who cares about that, right?).
Upon discovering this, I was immediately transported back two decades ago. Back to when I was but a wee lass using any opportunity I could to swindle my dad out of his phone so I could play these games even for five minutes. Then that got me thinking about how great it is when game developers treat us players to retro Easter eggs like this.
A Blast From The Past
The latest instalments of the Wolfenstein franchise also do this beautifully by inserting moments throughout the games wherein the player can activate a so-called "Nightmare!" mode that allows them to play levels from the 90s classic Wolfenstein 3D.
Naughty Dog also treated die-hard PlayStation fans by allowing them to play a level of Crash Bandicoot as a mini-game within Uncharted 4. The scene in which protagonist Nathan Drake and his wife Elena "play" the classic PlayStation title together (although the player is the one actually controlling the nimble bandicoot) is probably one of the most charming and genuine video game scenes out there.
Then there is id Software's Doom revival released in 2016, which is absolutely laden with nostalgia. There are a whole lot of references to other big franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and The Terminator dotted throughout the game, and fans can also relive their childhoods by playing through maps from the original Doom 1 and 2, as well as a mini-game inspired by the classic Doom (and Candy Crush).
Gamers seem generally to love a bit of nostalgia, especially when it concerns our favorite childhood games. There's a magic to it that certainly doesn't fade with time.
Oh, and if after reading this you feel the urge give Snake another go, the folks at Neave Interactive have you covered. Be warned, though: if you're prone to procrastination, you probably shouldn't open up that can of snakes.