Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

Lucas’s Problem

Posted by Tracy Poff on January 6, 2009

Lucas’s Problem is a Windows 3.1 implementation by James Curran of a puzzle created by the French mathematician Édouard Lucas, who also created the more famous Towers of Hanoi puzzle.

The object is to reverse the positions of the colored blocks, so that red fills the right, and blue the left. Each color of blocks can only move in one direction (indicated by the arrows on these blocks) one space, or jump over a block of the opposite color.

There is, I think, only one way to solve this puzzle (up to reflection), so there’s not much to say. The puzzle isn’t hard to solve when you realize what situation leads to an unwinnable game, so this hasn’t got any replay value.

You can download Lucas’s Problem, or play a web based implementation, at Novel Theory

Gameplay: 8/10
The game works and responds to clicks as expected. The puzzle is pretty clever, though not an invention of the game’s creator. There’s nothing wrong with the game, but there’s just nothing to it, so 8 is the highest score I can give it.
Graphics: 6/10
The graphics are very simple, but acceptable given the scope of the game. One can imagine a more visually pleasing implementation of the puzzle, even in 1990, so minus a few points for not really trying there.
Personal Slant: 5/10
Although I really do think that Lucas’s puzzle was quite clever, Lucas’s Problem has no replayability and offers no value beyond the satisfaction of solving a nice, though simple, puzzle.
Total: 6.33/10
The lack of replayability in this one was a killer for the game’s score. I’m not sure what could have been done to alleviate this–perhaps if the scope of the game had been larger, implementing several similar games, like Towers of Hanoi, it might have made the game worth a second look. As it is, though, even if the puzzle is worth remembering, the game will be soon forgotten.
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