Posts Tagged ‘puzzle

11
Mar
13

Hubie For DOS

Hubie Title Screen

Hubie Title Screen

Hubie is a puzzle platformer game released in 1996 by Serendipity Software. It was made at the end of the DOS game era, but is simple and reminiscent of many earlier puzzle platformers. For such a simple game, it requires more processing power than it really should. I had to set DosBox to 7000 cycles to get the animations and game running smoothly, which roughly equates to a reasonable 486 machine. These faster DOS machines were common by this time, so it isn’t surprising, but is an example of many wasted CPU cycles.

Practise Screen

Practise Screen

The graphics of the game are very colourful, but when I first looked at them I thought they were EGA graphics. They are actually in VGA, and unsurprisingly the game doesn’t support any other modes. The graphics are not unattractive, but they don’t make good use of the VGA palette as they overuse many bright colours. The animations however are smooth, and work quite well, it’s just a shame they  take up so many CPU cycles.

Near the exit of the practise level

Near the exit of the practise level

Sound comes in the form of digitised sound from a sound blaster card, and ad lib/sound blaster music. The sound effects are quite reasonable and not too distracting, but the music is a bit annoying and quite repetitive. It is almost as if it was added as an after-thought.

The second easy puzzle

The second easy puzzle

The controls are designed around the numeric keypad, although if you don’t like them you can customise the keys yourself. There are more keys requires than is usual for a platform game, you have the usual four for movement, another two for pushing and crushing objects, and an extra two for flying a short distance and climbing. Fortunately the controls are not that hard to get used to. Moving around a level is very simple, but you can only move one complete tile at a time, so you don’t always stop when you release the key.

It's curtains for me!

It’s curtains for me!

The puzzles themselves are fun, and can take a little bit of working out. You can retry them as many times as you like so there is no problem with getting killed and it is safe to try different solutions. The puzzles are sorted into categories of difficulty, easy, medium, hard and bonus. This makes it easy to pick the level of puzzle that suites you. Like many modern games, you unlock levels as you play and can start at any level you have already unlocked.

About Serendipity

About Serendipity

Whilst the game has its flaws and a unusual control scheme, it was fun to play. The puzzles can get rather complex and require many steps to complete, so if you like puzzles you’ll like this game. That being said once you play a puzzle there is little to encourage you to play it again, and I found it frustrating sometimes when it wasn’t clear which way I should go to solve a puzzle. Today I played the shareware game which comes with 17 puzzles. The registered version comes with 100 puzzles and a level editor, so you may get much more mileage out of the registered version.

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03
Sep
12

Spider Run for DOS

The Soleau Logo

The Soleau Logo

Spider run was made by Soleau Software back in 1994. It is a puzzle game much like Ant Run made by the same company earlier. In this game you have a map divided into a grid, filled with tiles that you rotate. Your task is to build a path for the spider to crawl along. As you complete levels the spider travels faster and the map gets harder to organise. In order to pass a level you have to get a certain score before the end of the level or the game ends.

Playing Level 1

Playing Level 1

The game uses EGA higher resolution graphics which are quite unusual for games of the time. Whilst there are not that many colours, the sprites and backgrounds are very detailed and attractive. Sound comes in the form of PC speaker and is nothing really exciting, but fortunately it isn’t annoying either.

Multiple start points!

Multiple start points!

The game plays and controls quite well, you use the mouse to make changes to the map by clicking on tiles to rotate them. As the spider travels around, tiles he travels over change colour, and can’t be used again.  If the spider travels off the edge of the map he wraps around to the other side, and if you have gone far enough the tiles you have traveled across are cleared with one being removed entirely. In the early stages of the game it is quite easy to get the spider to travel for quite a distance.

High Scores

High Scores

On some levels there are some bonus tiles you can cross in order to get some bonus points, and a fly may randomly get caught in the web which you may go and catch. Occasionally there will be an end tile which you must have the spider end its travels in to go onto the next level. I’ve also seen a level or two which has two start tiles, and you don’t know which one the spider will come out of.

End tiles

End tiles

There is an interesting educational component to this game in that between levels the game presents you with an interesting fact about spiders. As kids playing the game, we didn’t really learn any of the spider facts, as we often just ignored them and went on to the next level.

End of Game

End of Game

We originally got the game on a shareware cover disk like many other games for us at the time. We only ever played the game for short periods of time as the game play is fairly repetitive. I think Dad got the most out of the game, and is the person who dominated the high score table. It certainly is still quite fun, but still not something you’d spend any substantial amount of time playing.

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22
Jul
12

Lemmings for DOS

Lemmings was created by DMA design and published by Psygnosis in 1991. I first saw Lemmings on my cousins Tandy 1000 computer when visiting his family during christmas. We all had a quick go at it, but only really just scratched the surface as we didn’t have time to even complete the easy levels. Lemmings was one of the few games that supported almost every platform around including computers like the Amiga and Archimedes. In the PC version there is support for XT style machines with CGA, AT style machine with EGA or Tandy graphics and newer PCs with VGA graphics.  Sound wise I’ve only seen support for Tandy, Adlib and PC speaker. There was also a version made that supports windows (either win9x or win3.1).

We got Lemmings on our old 386sx computer originally, and everyone played it a lot trying to solve the harder puzzles. It had some of the best VGA graphics we had seen on our computer with impressively smooth animations and well designed sprites. It was also one of the few games I’ve seen that used a 640x350x256 VGA mode, which was used primarily to intermission screens and the main title screen. The other graphics modes are similarly impressive for each of the different capabilities of the machines.  We used PC speaker for sound which was unfortunate not because the PC speaker sound was bad, but because we missed out on some of the best Adlib music you can find.

The gameplay in Lemmings is fairly simple in concept, but can have some very difficult puzzles. You have to guide your group of Lemmings through levels filled with various hazards such as bottomless pits, crushers, and fire/steam throwers. Fortunately the Lemmings have various abilities you can use to avoid the hazards or neutralize them. The early puzzles are fairly easy and are basically there to teach you how to use the various abilities of the Lemmings. The difficulty ramps fairly gently but there are so many levels with so much variety that there is always something to make you think. The later levels also get very hard, and no-one in my family has been able to complete all of the levels. I’ve found that the gameplay is still good to this day, and since I haven’t played it for quite a while, I still find it to be quite challenging.

06
May
12

Squarez for DOS

Squarez was made and released by Adam Pederson originally back in 1992. It is a puzzle game much like Tetris and other block games, but different in that the blocks do not fall from the top of the screen. The field of game play is divided into two sections by a bar, which can be moved backwards and forwards to change the amount of space available. Two players can play against each other using the bar to restrict the playing space of the other player. Like Tetris you get a number of blocks in puzzle like shapes, the difference is that to make the tiles disappear you need to shape them into squares of a minimum size of 3×3.  Depending on the difficulty level you can get tiles that perform special actions when activated by placing them in squares. Each player has a entryway that you must keep clear, for if you get a piece stuck in it your game is over.

The graphics are very good and quite pleasing to the eye. The quality of the sound is also very good whether it is from the PC speaker, or from a Sound Blaster or Adlib sound card. You can control the game using either the keyboard or mouse, and it may be possible to use a joystick although I never have tried to connect one. Controlling the game itself is responsive, and accurate. The blocks go where you want them to and you are able to do it quickly, which is definitely a good thing as this allows you to score quickly, and hopefully also move the bar quickly to squash your opponents space. The mouse is definitely the best control device to use as it is the fastest way to place blocks. The keyboard is more precise, but not as fast, so it is possible to beat an opponent with the keyboard, but it takes significant skill and a bit of luck.

We originally got this game on our 386 on a shareware magazine cover disk. We played the game competitively between ourselves quite a bit, and occasionally still play it this way today. There are a couple of bugs that you should be aware of, the shareware version would crash if you push the bar too far to either the left or right. The latest registered version seems to stop both players controls if one player loses leaving the other immobilised. These problems however don’t detract from the game being very fun and addicting.




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