Saturday, December 31, 2005

Puzzle Pimping

Let me take a break from my regularly scheduled blog to tell you all about the thing that's been sucking my time and life away like water for the last couple weeks.

Back in college, I (and nearly every one of my friends) got totally addicted to a puzzle game for the Mac called "The Fool's Errand." It was back in the days of black and white Macs--we were all sportin' SE's or Classics then, running system 6.5--and the game was a series of over 100 puzzles, connected by a plot based on the traditional Rider-Waite tarot deck. The game was authored by Cliff Johnson, and featured crisp silhouette art and a nice level of challenge. In those days of liberal software piracy, we all had a copy, and all worked feverishly on Fool's Errand when we should have been writing papers and studying. It was glorious. Right before we graduated, he came out with "3 in Three," a similar game but mind-blowingly difficult. I'm not sure any of us solved it before graduation.

Fast forward to a month or so ago, when my friend Alex in Chicago casually mentioned that Cliff Johnson is coming out with another puzzle game! Not only that, but there are freeware versions of the two games I played in college, plus another one I'd never seen called "At the Carnival," downloadable on his website. And they'll work on OS 9! Verily I rushed to download them. Fool is still entertaining, 3 is still painfully hard, and Carnival has kept me up til 1 am on multiple nights this week when I should have been doing other things. It's just like college all over again.

So here's the pimp. If you like puzzles, go to Cliff Johnson's Website, and download any or all of these games. They will play on both Windows and Mac machines, with a little work (the later two require 256 colors rather than our current default setting of "buttloads," so you have to do a little workaround. For Windows you need a special extension installed; both of these are also available on the Fool's site.) If you love them, and want to thank Cliff for all those late nights of time-sucking brain-pounding agony, (and have $50 to spare) you should pre-order his new game, "A Fool and His Money." The game won't be out for months and months... but you did just get three fabulous games and hours of entertainment for free.*

* the hint books are also available on the site for free. Not that you'll need them.