dominoes and more: A pocket games collection

When I was a kid, I was forced at interval to endure the common ritual of The Family Vacation, which usually involved traveling long distances in the back of a car across flat landscape with very little to do, other than annoy a sibling.

Children suffering the same torture today have all manner of things to occupy them, not the least of which being smartphones, netbooks or other electronic gizmos. In my day, we had to make do with cards, pocket-sized games, travel versions of boardgames, or pen-and-paper puzzles. You do remember what a pen and paper are, right? šŸ˜•

I’m sort of pleased to see that some of those rudimentary distractions have made the leap to digital text-based game format, so I’ll lump some of them together today as mini-games or exceptionally lightweight versions. What I have here is certainly nothing spectacular, but I do sometimes get messages saying a program was helpful in unexpected ways.

By the author of okiworld, this is a very straightforward and simple text-based chess game that manages to outdo obtuse behemoths like gnuchess or crafty in terms of usability. It’s not a particularly good chess client, so if you’re ranked globally, you’ll probably wipe the floor with it in a few minutes. But for those of us who lack your godlike skills and demeanor, it’s a better option than either of the heavyweights. File size: 22K, plus the perl infrastructure.



Also by the author of okiworld, a rudimentary attempt at a dominoes partner, again as a perl script. This is the only text-based dominoes client I’ve seen in two years of scraping the text-only crud off the bottom of the Internet, and sadly, it’s not very impressive to me. Commands are a little awkward, the board is hard to read and for what I can tell, it doesn’t really follow the rules of dominoes that I learned. It works, but just doesn’t grab me. File size: 6.3K, plus the need for perl again.



A very primitive and not very visual rendition of the Mastermind game, but with ncurses support, color and mostly arrow key controls. Up and down arrows push you through the available colors, and enter submits your guess for comparison. The upside of this is its four-corner approach to the display, which means it should (emphasis on “should”) run in the most unforgiving of terminal dimensions. The make command will dump this into a dedicated folder in your $HOME directory. Executable size: 22K.



Reaching back again into for this one, a simple coordinate-based Reversi game with good manners and an easy learning curve. Having said that, there’s only one difficulty level: something on par with Musashi’s Deadly Brain. While it’s perfectly believable that someone with a little more skill and a lot more patience might beat this thing, suffice to say I lack those qualities. Has onboard help and a polite demeanor. I like polite programs. Executable size: 23K.



A one-shot, no-frills 15 puzzle written in C. It is terrifically small and works like a charm, but is a bit unintuitive, has no real interface and needs a lot more attention than it has gotten so far. A tip or two: Arrow keys move the gap, not the numbers, and so you’ll spend a lot of time thinking backwards as you play this. Pressing “q” will exit cleanly; compilation command is in the comments of the source file. Executable size: 6.3K.

If you think this game parade is running short, you’re sadly mistaken. I managed to hack through a dozen or so by lumping them together into bulk posts, but I still have about a dozen more on The List. Before we go back to boring old network monitors and the text editor du jour. Aren’t games more fun? Don’t answer that. … :\