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Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection (greenend.org.uk)
204 points by tgragnato on Apr 30, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 45 comments

"Galaxies" is the one I keep coming back to. It has the property that computer-generated instances of it are often satisfying, with distinct "aha" moments where everything falls into place.

That's not true for all logic puzzles -- many Nikoli-style puzzles can be clever when designed by humans but are tedious when designed by computers.

If you'd like to play these games on your phone, Chris Boyle packaged them up as a no-networking, ad free, and $0 app for Android! It's on the play store here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=name.boyle.chr...

I think "Untangle" is the game I've put the most time into, though other favorites include "Map" and "Flood".

Author of iOS port here. Thanks for the plug!

I've probably spent more hours in this game than any other game on my phone, over its lifetime.

> I think "Untangle" is the game I've put the most time into

Same. It's extremely relaxing, and you just can't stop.

You can also download the APK directly from https://chris.boyle.name/projects/android-puzzles/

I haven't checked, but it should also be available on F-Droid.

Same here. I only install a handful of apps in my phone, and this is one of them. One wrapping-11x11 game of "Net" is just right for my short subway commute.

I'm a big fan of Net as well. Ported it to PuzzleScript last year:


When you read the word "portable," you'd better believe it. The entire project is designed for elegance and simplicity, and the developer docs are a pleasure to read.


So portable that even several of these games were ported to Ubuntu Phone (R.I.P.).

Edit: https://uappexplorer.com/apps?q=tatham&sort=relevance

Heck, I personally ported them to Rockbox so they run on my MP3 players now!


The topic of Minesweeper seems to come up on HN quite often, so it might be worth noting that Simon's implementation ensures that "you are guaranteed to be able to solve the whole grid by deduction rather than guesswork."

I love this puzzle collection, and it's one of the first things I install on new computers.

Simon Tatham has been mentioned a few times on HN before.


Not sure about computer, but I'm installed this on every single phone I've had since my HTC Dream (very first android phone).

It honestly is the perfect "portable" game to kill 15m here or there. I've been playing it for over 8 years now and I still keep cycling through. And the controls on phones are pretty well made too.

I love almost all the games in the pack. That feeling you get when you solve your very first Sudoku, and then the next 10 when you slowly discovery new "strategies"? Well you can have that feeling many many times over with this! That's how I introduce this to people.

I remember being so excited to play this on my GBA as homebrew! Good times. Sadly, smartphones have ruined the joy of these fun, simple games for me. I miss the days when installing custom puzzles on your mobile device felt like an adventure.

This is the one game (apart from maybe Super Hexagon...) which has always been reinstalled on new phones/installs.

It's definitely because they are both fun & simple?

Smart phones these days may be more capable, but great graphics don't make a great game.

From the guy that wrote PuTTY

I visited his website exactly because he released a new version of putty just yesterday.

That is why the name was familiar!

somebody please finish the sokoban.c from the "unfinished" folder :) . whatever is done by autosokoban [1] is really good, but there is no source.

[1] http://www.linusakesson.net/games/autosokoban/index.php

This is the only "game" I have on my phone. Years later I'll still sometimes stumble on a strategy I never noticed before, in one or another of the puzzles.

I see 39 games.

I love this collection and have worked my way through most of them. It ranges from the easy and instantly enjoyable (untangle) through to those which even after a lot of playing the higher levels can be frustratingly hard to solve (eg towers). In the middle are some you can learn the tricks for (eg maps) and others where theres always something different (eg galaxies). Theres also a good mix of the familiar and unfamiliar.

If you like this, you might want to check out Nikoli (http://www.nikoli.com/en/). They're a Japanese puzzle company and they put out new puzzles every single day, all designed by humans. The only real downside to their site is it uses Flash.

I have no affiliation with them, I've just been a happy subscriber for a long time.

To clarify: A bunch of the puzzles in Simon Tatham's collection are also puzzles that Nikoli does. I haven't checked to see if all of Nikoli's puzzles are in the collection though.

I always referred to these as "Simon Tatham's Portable NP-Complete Puzzle Collection"...

Shameless plug for my game that I've been working on for a long time: https://bobsgame.itch.io/bobs-game-puzzle-game

What's your favourite puzzle HN?

Mine is Loopy, especially the Great Dodecagonal variant.

I'm partial to Signpost and Towers.

I'm a huge fan of Slant; I like generating and solving huge puzzles with that.

There are some high-level reasoning rules you can use to solve Slant puzzles more quickly. For instance, if you have two 1s orthogonally adjacent, the slants on the opposite faces must not touch the 1s:

    / ? \
     1 1
    \ ? /
And if you have 3s in the same situation, the outside slants must both touch the 3s:

    \ ? /
     3 3
    / ? \
There are several more rules like that, which make it much faster to solve.

I really like "Loopy", but prefer the variant with hexagons/honeycomb. Got it downloaded on my phone as "Slitherlink". Very nice, abstract game where you constantly see new patterns.

For a more mix between a normal game and puzzle game (like the original Portal game was) I can recommend Snakebird. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.NoumenonGa...

You realize that loopy has options for hexagons and more, right?

Yes, but still not as good as a the standalone Slitherlink (which also has lots if variants). What I miss the most is easy navigation with one hand, different colors on the links so I know which ones belong together without zooming out, marking the numbers differently when their constraints are okey, and the ability to mark areas as outside or inside. I also feel something is a bit off with the generated games, but that might be me being used to another generator.

Some of these are seriously addicting, and it's no surprise that many of them have been shamelessly copied and sold as smartphone apps. Galaxies is probably my favorite.

I implemented the Towers Game on iOS a few years ago: https://itunes.apple.com/cn/app/%E6%95%B0%E5%A1%94%E6%B8%B8%...

Very few downloads. Maybe it's the crappy graphics.

I am always wondering why some puzzle games get popular (Sudoku, 2048) whereas others don't .

I was thinking about these just the other day, but couldn’t remember the name/location. Thank you 'tgragnato for posting!

This is a silly question, but: some of these games have right-click actions, which I find I cannot perform on a Mac OS X system by holding Control and clicking. Is there some other way I should be trying to right-click?

In the source he says its command-click:

* - see if we can do anything to one-button-ise the multi-button * dependent puzzle UIs: * - Pattern is a _little_ unwieldy but not too bad (since * generally you never need the middle button unless you've * made a mistake, so it's just click versus command-click).

Hm, that doesn't work for me. (To be clear, I'm using the JavaScript version of the game, in case it matters.)

I spent more time than I am willing to admit on "Tents".

edit: "Fillings" and "Rectangles" are also super addictive for me.

Anyone have problems with the touch screen on iOS? I've been thinking about contacting the author and describe the issues.

One thing I've noticed, if you're on a phone with force/3D touch, you have to hold much longer than usual on the left edge of the screen to do a hold action, because of the app switching feature

Thanks, in some of the apps I've noticed the click-area is very small or shifted, and sometimes clicking something doesn't work.

I definitely have much better experience with the Android version than the iOS version. The iOS version has somewhat poorer control where a sliding motion is used. The display wants to slide in that case rather than the game control being used.

Love the collection!

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