Posted by: yannaungoak | October 15, 2009

Puzzle Games from the 90’s

Oh man, I have no life. I just finished all 50 levels of this puzzle game called Boxed In on my iPhone.

YOUR WHAAAT!!!?? I hear you ask.

Yes, I have a dirty little secret. I have been using an iPhone (3GS, 32GB) for more than a month now. And if you know anything about me, you’d know that there are few things I hate more in the world than Apple fanboys. I bow my head in shame. But first I have to defend myself.

I’ve always loved Macs since that one semester when I started living (yes, if you knew me at Midd, you know what I’m talking about) in the Comp Sci department’s Mac lab in college. They make very good computers. What I couldn’t stand is the thought of paying Apple Inc exorbitant sums to join their stupid cult. And yes, Apple Inc is ALSO a publicly traded corporation with a legal mandate to maximize profits (for those of you who hate such entities but nevertheless forget that your shiny Mac comes from the same factories in China that make electronics for Wal-Mart). Okay, don’t get me started…

The thing is, in Singapore at least, you don’t have to pay lots of money to get an iPhone. If you buy it with a plan, it’s only S$148 (~USD 100), and you don’t have to pay extra in monthly fees just because you’re using an iPhone. From what I know, both the up-front cost and the monthly fees are only about a half to a third of what you’d pay in the US for a 32GB 3GS.

And I didn’t even have to pay for the phone, I got that for free, I only have to pay the monthly bills (working in Telecoms has some quirks). I was offered the phone as a graduation present/equipment for work by Othercousin. I WOULD NOT have gotten it if it was up to me. All I did was complacently agree to my elder’s wishes, and that’s just what you do in my culture. No, really.

So that was me defending my dignity, for what it’s worth. I seriously feel bad for this, like I killed a kitten or something.

That said, I can definitely say with some confidence afforded by my 2 months experience working in the biz that iPhones really are the best cell phones on the market right now. That’s of course, until Nokia, Samsung, HTC, Sony and others catch up with their newest models. But it will still be a benchmark that all other mobile devices coming out in the next few years will be measured against. I think the Blackberry Storm is the only comparable one right now, but I’ve never used it, so I don’t know. I suspect it’s actually slightly better than the iPhone.

Ok, again, this is not some attempt at underhanded bragging. It was just my honest opinion. There’s no escape, is there? Arrgh…

Anyways, this post was not supposed to be about the phone at all. What I really did want to brag about was that I finished all 50 levels of Boxed In!





All 50 done!

Boxed In is a game where you move a little robot around a room to push boxes into their proper places to open all the passageways blocking your exit. It’s just challenging enough that you want to keep going at it till you finish all the levels, without just giving up and abandoning the game because it’s giving you a headache.

The whole time I was playing it, I remembered similar games from the good old days of MS-DOS and Windows 3.11. There’s two that I particularly loved.

The first is Chip’s Challenge, it’s an old Windows game with the same premise as Boxed In, except it’s got a lot more features. Whereas Boxed In just involves pushing boxes, Chip’ Challenge makes you get boots to walk on fire, run away from monsters, flip switches and levers, unlock doors, in addition to pushing boxes around. It’s awesome! And has more than 140 levels. I never finished it. I guess I was dumber when I was young, and the game itself was pretty darn hard.


The second one, and IMHO the better of the two, is an old MS-DOS game called Supaplex. This one also involves controlling a little guy that pushes stuff around until you find a clear path to the exit, but unlike Chip’s Challenge and Boxed In, it’s not so much a test of logical puzzle solving skills but rather your speed and control. There’s these scissor things that eat you, and stuff that explode when it falls on you, and rocks falling on all sides which block the narrow passages to your exit. It’s gloriously fun, and incredibly hard. I was about nine or ten when I played it and could only finish a few levels (but it did let you skip levels though).


All that makes me want to start writing games. I think it would actually be quite easy to write small games like that. Most games for cell phones are on the level of second year Comp Sci class projects. And if you look at the kind of stupid shit that they sell for $1.99 at the iPhone App store, you’d think you can do a hell of a lot better.

I’ve already started reading a book on programming for Symbian, since Nokias are the most widely used phones. The thing, though, is that, Apple, being sneaky as usual, made it so that you can only get Apps from their official store (unless of course, you get clever and jailbreak the thing), so App makers for Apple don’t have to worry about piracy, but it sooo easy to copy stuff from one Nokia phone to another. iPhone Apps are definitely where the big bucks are. 40 million iPhone users in the world, all wanting a 99 cent cure for their boredom, makes for a goldmine.

But of course, there’s always a catch. Even before you start writing any program for the iPhone, you first have to buy a Mac. The SDK only runs on Macs. Which I think is stupid and unfair. Imagine Sony made sure that you could only write Playstation games on Sony laptops. In addition, even if you are a altruistic type of person who would give your wonderful Apps to the world for free, you still have to pay Apple US$99 to join the developer’s program. But hey, as we say in Burmese, “you are the police, do whatever you want”.

Buy a Mac? Maybe a mini? Even that’s like S$988 (~USD 700) for a paltry thing with a gig of ram, it’s like an amputee of a computer. I can use a hackintosh but it’s gonna be a nightmare when you need updates for the SDK.

No way sir. Not until I pay off my student loans.

*Steve Jobs laughs diabolically in the background*



  1. I used to have Chip’s Challenge memorized from playing so much.

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