sudognu: Sort of a game, sort of a game generator

I’m going to include sudognu in this list, even though the argument could be made that it’s not really a game, so much as a game solver and generator.


As you can see there, one of the main uses for sudognu is to generate PDFs of sudoku puzzles, ready to print and maybe even republish elsewhere. sudognu does this without the need for wacky dependencies or outside libraries, so just compile and go.

sudognu can also generate puzzles as 81-digit strings representing the filled and unfilled squares of a sudoku puzzle, and if you need help, can solve them too, by feeding a puzzle back in the same format.

So, no more waiting for the next day’s newspaper to arrive, to check your work. ;)

As an added bonus, the sudognu package comes with tools and scripts to help you set up a server that can do much the same thing with puzzles submitted through a web page. I didn’t take the time to set that up, but I imagine it looks a lot like the sudognu home page.

sudognu isn’t interactive like nsudoku was, but then again, it wasn’t intended to be. I know it’s not so much a game as a lot of other things we’ve seen in the past week, but it probably fits here better than anywhere else.

P.S.: Yeah, I know. Acrobat Reader. Blech. :P

gnushogi: We know the lion by his claw

gnugo gave me a shudder because it looked and behaved so much like my mortal enemy gnuchess. Seeing gnushogi is like catching a doppelgänger.


Shogi, in case you are not familiar with it, is also known as Japanese chess and is probably famous for allowing captured pieces to return to the board in the service of the captor. It’s not an easy game to master, possibly because it has (in my opinion) a more complex arrangement than the traditional chess game.

Which means I am hopeless at it. A friend tried to teach me more than once, but he was quite skilled and I was more fascinated by the kanji written on each piece. I appreciate pictures and colors, you see. :roll:

I will leave it to you to learn the rules and strategies, and speak to the gnushogi text client only. Of which, I must admit, I have no particular love for.

I complained about gnuchess almost a year ago, and to be honest, I have the same critique of gnushogi. It’s not only obvious that one was built from the other, but that they both suffer from the same faults.

Controls are obtuse coordinate sets. The board is not labeled. You have to ask to see it. The game updates by scrolling, but only provides a numbered move, and its results. I could go on, but I said most of this a year ago.

I understand that the program is intended as a backend for the XShogi application, but that only reinforces my belief that it’s not really intended to be used as a console game. And if it was, its designers did a terrible job.

No matter. Games like gnushogi and gnugo, and even gnuchess, if I must be honest, are probably better played on a real board, rather than fighting an uncomfortable interface or a dense display. At least until something better comes along. … ;)

arkanoid.sed, sedtris and sokoban.sed: sed-tacular

I mentioned with that I was willing to overlook its core game in order to praise its underlying structure. I have to do that again now, and applaud three simple console arcade games that — believe it or not — are written in sed.

2014-10-16-2sjx281-arkanoid.sed 2014-10-16-2sjx281-sedtris 2014-10-16-2sjx281-sokoban.sed

Left to right, that’s arkanoid.sed, sedtris and sokoban.sed. As if you couldn’t tell. … :roll:

I am thoroughly impressed at this point. I am lucky if I can get sed to swap two characters in a single file, let alone handle collisions, rebound angles, blocked paths and shape matches. My hat is off.

All three programs play much like you might expect, although both arkanoid.sed and sokoban.sed will require you to press Enter to start, and after each command. It’s an inconvenience, but I can’t very well find fault. (sedtris, on the other hand, doesn’t need prompting.)

I should point out that these are not all by the same author, which means there is more than one high wizard of sed out there in the wild. I obviously have a lot to learn. :(

gnugo: Any excuse to avoid a thrashing

Games with simple rules and mathematical underpinnings are the most intimidating to me, because I know that a computer has an advantage over my clumsy organic brain. I’m much more comfortable whacking gnolls than trying to orchestrate a checkmate. I can handle the former.

gnugo is a workup of the classic East Asian board game go, and it looks and plays a lot like its gnuchess sibling.


gnugo is a little more forgiving than its cousin though. The board image is refreshed at each turn in a scrolling fashion, with the most recent move highlighted in brackets. Black is shown as an X, and white as an O. Grid coordinates are used to place markers, and the status updates with the number of captures and the last move made.

I played a few games with gnugo, and it thrashed me each time. But I expected that, partly because I am a go novice, but also because the speed and algorithms of the program outstrip the best this carbon-based unit can muster.

I don’t think I would be likely to tangle with gnugo again in the future, and it’s not because I am a sore loser. Personally, I think the board becomes difficult to read as the game progresses.

Traditional real-world go boards are quite beautiful, and the arrangement of tokens is easy to read at a glance. With gnugo I find myself staring at combinations of Xs and Os and trying to find free edges somewhere in the swirl of pixels.

If that sounds like an excuse not to get thrashed by gnugo again … well, it probably is. :(

npush: More Sokoban than Boulder Dash

The home page for npush compares the game to both Sokoban and Boulder Dash, but I really only see a resemblance to the former.

2014-10-16-2sjx281-npush-01 2014-10-16-2sjx281-npush-02

npush has no gravity element, which to me makes it more like csokoban than CAVEZ of PHEAR or mining-haze. Without the influence of gravity, npush becomes an arrangement puzzle, and not so much an action game.

npush does offer some unusual twists to the classic Sokoban play. You can undo your moves, which is always nice. And it injects a second character, meaning some puzzles will require you to switch between protagonists to escape the puzzle.

npush does a great job of allowing you to customize key controls, with an easy-to-use keypress menu. It also lets you jump to any level in its repertoire, and keeps a key of all its symbols on-screen, while you play.

npush does just about everything right, so I feel a little guilty for not being a puzzle game fan. If you don’t mind working through the arrangements and finding the patterns that unlock each level, you’ll probably enjoy this.

As for myself … I am on the lookout for something a little more to my liking. ;) Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother

I just mentioned that gpcslots2 is a giant perl program, which is pretty impressive considering the number of games it will play and how well it works. It’s not perfect, but I have a measure of respect for games that can be accomplished without too much compiling.

Here’s one you should be able to run right from the prompt:

Now I’ve mentioned more than one Minesweeper clone in the past, and to be honest, my love for Minesweeper itself runs very, very shallow. I just don’t see the attraction.

But I do respect a game that runs with no more assistance than the shell, and still incorporates a healthy number of play options, color, and easy controls.

So it’s not that great a game on the whole, but it is as good as any other Minesweeper game I’ve listed here, and does it with a sliver of the resources. Well done.

gpcslots2: In a different direction altogther

I fought too long and hard to bring conquest up to a working state — and still walked away empty-handed — to spend too much more time on console games today. So I picked an easy one this time. Here’s gpcslots2:

2014-10-16-2sjx281-gpcslots-01 2014-10-16-2sjx281-gpcslots-02 2014-10-16-2sjx281-gpcslots-03 2014-10-16-2sjx281-gpcslots-04 2014-10-16-2sjx281-gpcslots-05

I don’t see many casino games at the console, which means either I haven’t been paying attention, or they just aren’t out there.

gpcslots2 (I haven’t been able to find gpcslots1) is interesting for a couple more reasons. For one thing, it’s just a giant perl script. Download the one file from Sourceforge, and start it with perl gpcslots2_0-4-5b. No compiling, no fighting with permissions or groups. That’s a nice change. 8-)

The choice of games in gpcslots2 is also unusual. I’ve been to a few casinos in my time, but I don’t recall Russian roulette being one of the games offered. O_o Craps, yes. A slot machine, yes, and straight roulette, of course. But nothing that staked your life for a meager 25 chips. :???:

gpcslots2 does all its “graphics” with straight ASCII characters and color combinations. I’m using a wide aspect framebuffer these days for screenshots, and as you can see, gpcslots2 will trap itself in the lower left corner on each screen refresh. If your terminal fits those dimensions you might get the illusion of animation, but otherwise it leaves a lot of space unoccupied.

On the other hand, the screen space it does use, it uses well. And I like the small touches to the animation, such as the split displays for tumblers on slot machines. Rather than just center each shape, gpcslots2 takes the time to show tumblers stuck between symbols. Nice touch.

gpcslots2 is a decent casino game and doesn’t break any major rules of engagement. It has a few oddball additions to the classic casino suite, but I’m willing to accept those as fun expansions on the traditional theme. It’s not the greatest casino simulator ever, and it doesn’t pay out real money, but it’s acceptably satisfying. ;)

P.S.: Not in Arch/AUR or Debian.