Too Much Free Time

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

Archive for May, 2012

Blocks

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 31, 2012

Blocks is a 1986 Tower of Hanoi game for the Commodore 64, released (according to GB64) by Robtek Ltd.


This one seems very much like a recolored version of Glen Fisher’s Hanoi. I’d be surprised if it weren’t based on it or one of its successors. As a result, my opinion of this one is the same as with those–it’s functional, but not worth a second look.

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Posted in 1986, Bad, Commodore 64, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Towers of Hanoi (1985)

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 31, 2012

Towers of Hanoi by Daniel Miller is a 1985 Tower of Hanoi game for the Commodore 64.

This is just your standard Tower of Hanoi game, with a couple of differences: first, it doesn’t seem to be able to tell when you’ve won, instead requiring the player to press F1 to quit; second, pressing F1 during play will offer the option of having the computer solve the puzzle.

The animation of the discs moving is quite slow, making it rather boring to solve–it takes fully seven seconds to move a disc from the bottom of the left stack to the bottom of the right stack.

This would just be a rather poor Tower of Hanoi game, worthy of no particular notice, if it weren’t for one thing. Towers of Hanoi was published in the June 1985 issue of Ahoy!, a magazine for Commodore users–in fact, it was mentioned on the cover–and the writeup for the game is really great. It gives Lucas’s story about the priests in the temple moving discs about, counting down to the end of the world; it discusses the number of moves required to solve the puzzle; and it also describes some programming tricks the game uses quite lucidly. It’s a lovely little article, the sort that I really enjoy reading. It’s just a pity it wasn’t attached to a better game.

Posted in 1985, Bad, Commodore 64, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Stack

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 31, 2012

Stack by Glenn W. Zuch is a 1985 Tower of Hanoi game for the Commodore 64 with stunningly bad design.


I’ve opened this on a rather strong assertion, but it’s really deserved. For all the games I’ve reviewed so far, the worst thing you could really say about them was that they were unoriginal, boring, and ugly. Certainly flaws, but totally common ones and not entirely the fault of the authors.

Stack takes badness one step further–or a dozen. Behold:


Both the bars and the stacks are numbered, and rather than, as with every previous Tower of Hanoi game, selecting the source and destination stacks, you first select the bar you want to move, and then the stack you want to move it to. So solving the two-bar game, involves moving bar 9 to stack 2, bar 11 to stack 3, and then bar 9 to stack 3. Why weren’t the bars numbered 1 to 5 instead of 3, 5, 7, 9, 11? Who knows. But that’s not even the worst of it. Observe the game when a few moves have been made:


Each time you make a move, Stack redraws the stacks below the old ones, but it doesn’t tell you what the numbers are. So, you’ve got to keep in mind that in this case the medium sized bar is number 9, when you want to move it. How much worse it would be with five bars.

This is a horrible design choice with really no excuse. It’s a poor decision even if you’ve never seen a Tower of Hanoi game before, but by 1985 there were plenty of better examples.

This was a type-in game in the December 1985 issue of RUN (Issue #24), and the description there is priceless. It was written, I presume, by the author of the game, and repeats how easy the game is to play, while the underlying puzzle is difficult–not quite. Best of all is the one-sentence blurb introducing Stack: “Moving a few bars from one pile to another sounds easy, until you try this game.”

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Posted in 1985, Bad, Commodore 64, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pharao’s Super Nadeln!

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 31, 2012

Pharao’s Super Nadeln! by Logicre is a 1985 Tower of Hanoi game.


This one’s another simple Tower of Hanoi game, but it’s got some nice features–a timer, selectable number of discs between two and nine, pretty colors, animation, and simple sound effects.


This one takes the crown from Pharaoh’s Needles–the best Tower of Hanoi game so far. Of course, its title is ‘Pharaoh’s Super Needles’, so that’s to be expected, isn’t it?

I realize that, by this point, I’ve been doing little more than briefly comparing games to earlier games, but there’s only so many times I can review the Tower of Hanoi puzzle without simply repeating myself, so please forgive the less-than-self-contained reviews.

Posted in 1985, Commodore 64, Decent, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Hanoin Tornit

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 30, 2012

Hanoin Tornit is a variation on the Tower of Hanoi puzzle, published as a type-in game in the March 1984 issue of the Finnish magazine MikroBitti.


Hanoin Tornit is a little different from the usual Tower of Hanoi puzzle. It’s got an additional restriction: the discs may only be moved to adjacent stacks. This makes the solution much more drawn out; thankfully, the game only has four discs.

As usual with these early games, there’s no sound nor animation. Unusually, it is possible to ask the game to show you the correct solution, a good addition. There is only one solution, though, up to reversible mistakes, so there’s not much else to do, once you’ve seen it.

Since this review is working out to be quite short, let’s see how many steps it takes to solve this variation. To solve the puzzle with n discs:

  1. Solve the (n-1)-disc puzzle with all but the largest disc.
  2. Move the largest disc to the center.
  3. Solve the (n-1)-disc puzzle in reverse.
  4. Move the largest disc to the right.
  5. Finally, solve the (n-1)-disc puzzle again.

Adding these moves up, that means that if Hanoin(n) is the number of moves required to solve the n disc puzzle in this variation, then Hanoin(n) = 3*Hanoin(n-1) + 2. Clearly, it takes 2 moves to solve the 1-disc puzzle. So, applying a little math, we find H(4) = 80, quite a few more moves than the 15 required by the traditional Tower of Hanoi puzzle. In general, Hanoin(n) = 3^n – 1, while Hanoi(n) = 2^n – 1–quite a huge difference. In fact, solving Hanoin Tornit requires you to move the discs through every possible position–it couldn’t possibly take any longer to solve.

Since the math was more fun than the game, I’d recommend against playing this one.

Posted in 1984, Bad, Commodore 64, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Hanoi (1984)

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 30, 2012

In 1984, a final (to my knowledge) update to Glen Fisher’s Hanoi was released, also called Hanoi.


The gameplay is identical to its predecessors from 1978 and 1980. The only difference is that this 1984 version includes color–quite a bit more than the 1980 version, and in contrast to the monochromatic 1978 version.


I suppose that this version is the best of this lineage, which isn’t really saying much. Of course, for a Tower of Hanoi game, there isn’t much to say.

This version was released as a type-in game in Commodore 64 Fun and Games by Jeffries, Fisher, and Sawyer.

Posted in 1984, Commodore 64, Decent, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Die Türme von Pompeji

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 30, 2012

Die Türme von Pompeji is a 1983 Tower of Hanoi type-in game found in a German magazine, CPU (Computer programmiert zur Unterhaltung).


Though not, in my opinion, as visually appealing as the earlier Pharaoh’s Needles, Die Türme von Pompeji includes some features not found in the earlier Tower of Hanoi games I’ve played. Namely, sound effects and a timer. The sound effects are very primitive–just beeps to indicate successful or unsuccessful moves. The timer counts the number of minutes and seconds it takes to solve the puzzle, a nice addition.


Unfortunately, Die Türme von Pompeji supports only the six disc puzzle, has a rather unattractive red background, and, like D. Buckeye’s Tower of Hanoi, it is harder to tell at a glance how many discs are on a stack. Also, it has no animation, though whether that is a drawback may be a matter of opinion. Upon winning, however, the screen flashes through an exciting display of colors, which is nice.

Displaying the incremental and unpredictable nature of video game development, Die Türme von Pompeji is in some ways superior and in others inferior to its contemporaries.

Posted in 1983, Commodore 64, Decent, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Tower of Hanoi (1983)

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 30, 2012

Tower of Hanoi by D. Buckeye is, as the name suggests, a Tower of Hanoi game for the Commodore 64 and PET 64 computers, released in 1983.


This one is less featureful than even Glen Fisher’s version from five years prior: the number of discs is fixed at five, and the movements are not animated. The graphics are also less impressive–it’s harder to tell at a glance how many discs are on a stack, since they merge together onscreen.


This version is essentially inferior to the several Tower of Hanoi games which preceded and followed it. I do not recommend it.

Posted in 1983, Bad, Commodore 64, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Pharaoh’s Needles

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 29, 2012

Pharaoh’s Needles is a 1982 Tower of Hanoi game for the Commodore 64 by Ron Wagner & Wim (thanks to GB64 for this information).


Well, this incarnation of the Tower of Hanoi puzzle is a bit more appealing than Glen Fisher’s versions. Rather than just moving discs around, we’re going to engage in the Game of Kings! Very exciting. Of course, the rules are all the same, but you know, you’ve just got to give ’em the old razzle dazzle and what does it matter if your game’s nothing new?


Pharaoh’s Needles looks nice, and, like Hanoi, animates the moving of discs. Unlike, Hanoi, though, the animation in this game is quick. It’s much nicer, especially if you have the misfortune of choosing to play with nine discs, as the game allows. 511 moves, even quick ones, would wear on my patience long before the game was over. Still, I can’t fault the game for giving you the option.

This is the best Tower of Hanoi game, so far, and will hold that title for several years.

Posted in 1982, Commodore 64, Decent, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Towers of Hanoi (1980)

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 29, 2012

In 1980, according to GB64, Brookfield Software released an updated version of Glen Fisher’s Hanoi, including limited color.


This newer version is substantially similar to the first release, including the same animation and interface, and very limited color.


As before, there’s nothing in particular to recommend this version, so let this brief review stand as testament to the insignificant nature of the differences between the 1978 and 1980 versions of the game.

Posted in 1980, Bad, Commodore PET, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »