beasts: Crush, crumble or be chomped

I don’t remember it, but apparently way back in 1984 there was a text-based DOS game called Beast, which worked sort of like a murderous sokoban game.


That’s the Linux remake, dubbed beasts, hotwired to run against a 1600×1200 framebuffer with a teeny-tiny console font. I like to live dangerously. 😈

beasts — or Beast, I suppose — is a very simple game with simple rules. The beasts are marked with H symbols, and are attracted to you at a fairly constant rate. You are shown as a diamond symbol and can move in any of four directions.

You can destroy beasts by crushing them with the slide-able blocks, and as you might imagine, emptying the screen of beasts moves you to a new level.

Later levels contain tougher and faster monsters, no doubt leading up to a peak level which is impossible with puny mortal human reflexes. That’s the way games worked in 1984. 😉

I said it was simple, but that works both ways. I’ve told you 95 percent of what beasts does in those four sentences, meaning your interest level in this game is likely to fall off after a few minutes, let alone a round or two.

beasts also has some idiosyncrasies. I can’t seem to move in any but the four cardinal directions, and yet the beasts themselves are free to move in any of eight. I did not reach a level where I was allowed to “pull” blocks, so I don’t know if that feature is in this rendition.

Coming into contact with a beast causes the game to stop completely. And there’s no real difficulty control I can see, unless you’re willing to drop the game into a 1600×1200 framebuffer with a teeny-tiny console font. 🙄

Oh, and there’s no color. 😥

I jotted down some notes again on how to build this, since the home page is gone, but is preserved on To complicate matters, it apparently won’t compile without a third-party patch.

Download, decompress, patch with patch < beasts-both.patch, then compile. I have this command copied into my notes, and it works for me fine in Arch.

gcc -Wall -pedantic -O3 -lncurses -o beasts pkg-config --cflags --libs glib-2.0 beast.c console.c main.c sig.c

I wish I could remember who originally had these tips. I need to pay better attention to my sources. 😦

beasts is interesting as a decent remake of an early home computer game, but it’s not enough to satisfy me as a fully rounded, complete and enjoyable game. I don’t expect it will be updated either, so it may be that way for a long time to come. 😐