Review: Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection

At a Glance

This game is recommended!
While there are many great games out there, this is one manages to be good fun and stay fairly true to Christian moral values.

If you're looking to add a new game to your collection, consider this one!

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Puzzle / Logic Games
License: Open Source
Release Year: 2004
Review Published On: October 21st, 2020
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Homepage

Linux users can also find this game in their distro's repositories

Save System:

You can save* any game in progress using the Save option in the File menu. This records the current game in a file of your choice, so pick a filename that's easy to remember.

Summary of
Major Issues:

The only possible issue I can see with this collection is that the "Undead" puzzle uses vampires, ghosts, and zombies as game pieces. This puzzle is all about where the monsters are located in a grid, so there's nothing to really worry about aside from the presence of monsters themselves.

Screenshots

[view screenshot]
Pitching some tents

[view screenshot]
Drawing monsters out of hiding

[view screenshot]
Untangling a knot



Game Overview

If you've spent a lot of time working with Linux* computers, you might have run across the SGT Puzzle Collection (which is another name for this collection). Linux* tends to be used mostly by serious computer geeks, and surprise surprise, computer geeks love to keep their minds busy with logic puzzles* and other "nerdy" games. This collection is one such example, as it's an open source* collection of thirty nine different logic puzzles* by Simon Tatham.

Many of the puzzles in this collection are simple implementations of very well known logic puzzles*, like Black Box, Minesweeper, Peg Solitaire, Netwalk, and Sudoku. There's a healthy number of unusual and unique puzzles here too, like Dominosu, Galaxy, Undead, and Untangle. Basically, if you like brain teasers, you can't go wrong with this set.

Now, one of the big "problems" with this collection is that none of the games are particularly fancy. The graphics are simple, often being just a few lines and geometric shapes. Many puzzles don't even have colored images. The truth is, none of them really need fancy graphics or sound effects. This is also what the majority of games used to look like back in the early days of Windows, so in a way, this design style gives every game in this collection a certain nostalgic charm. It might be too rough around the edges for some, but it's more than enough for me.

If you want some neat little brain teasers to toy with in your spare time, give this collection a look -- there's bound to be something that tickles your fancy among the puzzles here.

Points of Interest

Adjustable difficulty
Every game has a nice selection of preset options for you to choose between, plus you can also create your own custom levels if you're feeling adventurous. Usually the preset options will be similar to the easy, normal, and hard difficulties found in other people's implementations of the same logic puzzles*, so you won't be on unfamiliar ground.
Intuitive controls
If you've ever tried your hand at one of these logic puzzles* before, you'll be able to pick up this version of the game without much effort. Almost everything is centered around the mouse, so clicking and dragging will be all you need for most puzzles. The few exceptions that also need keyboard input are very easy to guess, though there's always the online help if you get stuck.
Simple graphics aren't for everyone
Everyone has different opinions on what looks good, so while folks like me are content with the basic design of these games, there are going to be players who want their games to have more pizzazz. And that's perfectly okay! There are implementations of many of these logic puzzles* out there that have fancy graphics, sounds effects and music, so if you find a puzzle you like, you should be able to find a fancier version of it somewhere else online.

Concerns and Issues

Monsters as a puzzle game
The only thing that might be an issue with this collection lies in the Undead puzzle. Some Christians aren't comfortable with depictions of monsters in any form, even harmless designs like the game pieces in the Undead puzzle.

For the curious, this puzzle is about how many monsters can be seen from a specific location at the edge of a grid. The grid is filled with a given number of ghosts, vampires, and zombies, as well as mirrors that are facing one of two directions.

Your task is to figure out where the monsters are located in the grid based on how many of them are visible from the edges. Ghosts can only be seen in mirrors, vampires can only be seen directly, and zombies are always visible. Thus, if you had two ghosts, a vampire and a zombie in a row without mirrors, you'd only see two monsters (the vampire and the zombie) since the ghosts can only be seen in a mirror's reflection. Check the screenshots above for an example of this game.