Category Archives: Games

Churchill Solitaire

Ex-Defense Secretary, White House Chief of Staff and pharmaceutical boss Donald Rumsfeld has entered the world of mobile app game development. He has been working with a team of developers in the design of a card game called Churchill Solitaire. It turns out it is a rather challenging version played by one of the 20th century’s greatest statesman, Winston Churchill. You will find it available on the app store for free, although do watch out for those in-app purchases.

churchill-solitaire

Churchill Solitaire is based on wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s variation of the the game. It uses two decks of cards and ten columns instead of the more traditional one deck and seven columns. The game claims to reflect Churchill’s personality and leadership qualities: making sacrifices to achieve a greater goal, thinking several steps ahead, relying on cunning, guile and intense concentration and taking advantage of luck and opportunity in the quest for overall victory.

For those ho have forgotten their history, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was born in 1874 into the family of the Dukes of Marlborough in the English county of Wiltshire. His father was a politician and his mother was an American socialite. He served as an officer in the army in the Boer War and went on to become a war correspondent writing about his experiences. He was First Lord of the Admiralty before the First World War and saw active service on the Western Front when he became commander of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

During the 1930’s he was on the political sidelines but returned to parliament when the Second World War broke out. When Neville Chamberlain resigned in May 1940, he became Prime Minister. His inspirational radio broadcasts helped inspire British resistance during the those dark times. He remained in charge until victory was secured in 1945.

During the Nixon administration in 1973, when Rumsfeld was US ambassador to NATO, he met a Belgian diplomat called André de Staercke who had been friends with Churchill during World War II. De Staercke had been taught the rules of his solitaire by the British prime minister. De Staercke then went on to teach Rumsfeld.
After de Staercke and Churchill died, Rumsfeld wanted to make sure that the game would survive to see another generation.

The game’s challenge comes from a devil’s six set of cards that need to be liberated without moving them onto the main game table. It takes place on a 1940’s style desk and after completing levels the player is given a higher rank that represents Churchill’s path from the military academy at Sandhurst all the way up to Downing Street.

This is a card game that can frustrate the most skillful player because a one wrong move can make or break thegame. Just lLike classic solitaire, a number of hands are simply unwinnable. But the most steadfast of players will soldier on and find their way to victory.

World record arcade gamers

There is a rather interesting documentary style movie about arcade game players who go around trying to get high scores in Donkey Kong and other arcade games. It’s called “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters”.

The King of Kong movie poster

The movie was made in 2007 but I had never heard about it until recently. It’s an entertaining film about two guys fighting for the title of King of Kong.

The storyline from IMDB:

In the early 1980s, legendary Billy Mitchell set a Donkey Kong record that stood for almost 25 years. This documentary follows the assault on the record by Steve Wiebe, an earnest teacher from Washington who took up the game while unemployed. The top scores are monitored by a cadre of players and fans associated with Walter Day, an Iowan who runs Funspot, an annual tournament. Wiebe breaks Mitchell’s record in public at Funspot, and Mitchell promptly mails a controversial video tape of himself setting a new record. So Wiebe travels to Florida hoping Mitchell will face him for the 2007 Guinness World Records. Will the mind-game-playing Mitchell engage; who will end up holding the record?

I wonder what a film delving into the world of solitaire and freecell card game players would end up like.

Fairway Solitaire

What does the card game solitaire have in common with the popular outdoor pastime of golf? At first glance, not a thing. Nevertheless, games developer Big Fish Games has gone ahead and combined the two of them. The result has been a card game app that is amongst the most popular ones in the iOS and Android app stores.

Fairway Solitaire screenshot

Fairway Solitaire was first introduced back in 2007 as a PC/Mac game that you play like golf. The aim of the game is to clear each of the golf holes using golf clubs and cards by playing solitaire. You play the game essentially the same as a regular game of solitaire, but there is a twist.

You have a golf bag that includes Irons and Midas Clubs. These can be played as cards when you get stuck. While special clubs can help you complete the course, there are also hazards that will make it difficult for you to get par. There are Sand Trap and Water Hazard cards that must be unlocked as you progress through the courses, and a funny little Gopher that will try to ruin your game. He finds it hilarious when you don’t do well with the cards.

Fairway Solitaire was in fact designed around the ’80s comedy Caddy Shack, featuring Bill Murray relentlessly trying to catch that pesky gopher. Well, the gopher is back and if he pops up on screen you need to tap him to make him go away. If you don’t, a mini game will start. Winning a mini game gets you Gopher Bucks but losing a mini game means you may lose cards.

One of the best parts of the game are the announcers who make comments on what’s happening and it does feel as if they are actually present during them game.

You can give Fairway Solitaire a try over at Big Fish Games.

2048 number puzzle game

Gabriele Cirulli published the game 2048 on March 5th, 2014. To play, you use the arrow keys to try and merge tiles with matching numbers into a new tile of their combined value. To win the game, you need to reach the number 2048.

Sounds pretty easy right?

2048 screenshot

Well it is to line up and merge number 2 and 4 tiles, but once you get up to the higher numbers it becomes trickier lining up the large value tiles with all of the smaller ones in the way.

If you enjoy math-based puzzles then you will enjoy 2048!

Life Goes On

Life Goes On started as a group of strangers who met at a game jam and over the next two years grew to become a clever and engaging puzzle platformer.

The death of your character merely paves the way for the next guy as you sacrifice an endless stream of fearless knights into the arsenal of spike pits, flamethrowers, sawblades, and lava to make progress through a deadly gauntlet filled with elaborate deathtraps!

With names like ‘The Zippy Crown Princess Theresa’ and ‘Inquisitor Jim Rooker the Fourth, Son of Jim’, when the knights run, they charge ahead with such earnest gusto that you can’t help but cheer for them, even as you guide them into a flame thrower.

You may feel a little guilty as you push tons of tin soldiers to their death, but you know it’s a duty, necessary to achieve victory.

A Dark Room – text-based game to get your imagination running

Awake. Head throbbing. Vision blurry.

A Dark Room takes you on a journey that starts small and slowly becomes much, much, more.

It’s not an action game with graphics and fancy animations, it’s a seemingly basic storyline with deeper and darker meanings behind it. As you continue to play you uncover more and more mysteries that let you create your own images and story in your head.
I highly highly recommend giving this game a shot. If you like to use your imagination, chances are you will love this game.

Papers, Please: The game of immigration

Papers, Please was one of 2013’s surprise indie game successes; Lucas Pope’s attempt at capturing the emotional toll of working as an immigration officer.  The challenge is to inspect immigration documents and determine whether they are in order.

Screenshot from Papers, Please
The game takes place in this booth – with a line of people waiting to have their papers checked

The game is set in the fictional dystopian nation of Arstotzka in 1982. The border security crossing has just been opened up again. You’ve been sent there, and now live with your family in a government housing estate. You have a limited amount of time to process people at the security gate each day. You’re pay is based on how many people you get through, with fines for incorrect processing.

At the end of each day, your income and expenses (for food, rent, electricity, medicine for your wife/son/elderly parents) are shown. You need to rus to process enough people so you don’t have to go without food or turn off electricity at home. If you make too many mistakes you get fined and you don’t get to care for your family.

The art style, audio and interactions – between days via a daily newspaper, and with the people as they enter through your booth and the events that unfold during that – really help paint a picture of a desolate soviet wasteland of misery and poverty. Combined with the aim of putting food on the table for your family so they don’t starve, and it can be quite high-tension and far more gripping than you would expect.

You can get it at http://papersplea.se/

Is Robot Odyssey really the hardest computer game of all time?

Robot Odyssey – David Auerbach discusses the game that took him thirteen years to finish and which started him on the road to becoming a software engineer.

Inside a robot

In Robot Odyssey, you played a character who has fallen into the labyrinthine underground city of Robotropolis. You start in the sewers of the city with three programmable robots to help you solve the puzzles you face – Sparky, Scanner, and Checkers. You must make your way up through the subway, town, master control center and skyways to get back home. Along the way the game teaches the basic concepts of electrical engineering and digital logic.