Friday, March 21, 2008

Crazy Boxes

Title: Crazy Boxes
Author: Josef Stöckl
License: Freeware (version 1)/Commercial (version 2)

Back in November, an anonymous comment pointed me to Crazy Bytes. It is the homepage of computer/programming enthusiast who loves writing computer games. The older ones, he gives away for free, while he tries to make a dollar or two on the newer ones. I had never wondered across this site before. It contains 19 games; many of which are puzzle/logic games. I have been playing through the games and will report on the ones I like, starting this week with Crazy Boxes.

At first blush, Crazy Boxes is just a Sokoban clone, and the world does not need another Sokoban clone. Trust me, we don't. But, if you give the game a couple of minutes, you will see that this variant adds a couple of twists which give rise to some good puzzles.

As in Sokoban the goal is to push all the yellow crates to the target areas. Crazy Boxes adds three new twists. First there can be red crates. These do not have to be moved at any particular place; they simply get in the way. Then there are water holes. Neither the yellow crates nor your character can enter the water holes. But now there is a use for those red crates. They can be used to fill water holes by pushing them into the water. This allows your character and the yellow crates to pass. Finally, there are turnstiles which rotate about their pivot point when pushed by your character, assuming that nothing is blocking them.

There are 163 levels. I did not count, but I would estimate that about one in five levels straight Sokoban levels. The other 80 percent contain one or more of the new items. It is amazing how just a few extra items, well used, really breathes some life into Sokoban. The levels on the whole were very good, but not well paced. Some of the later levels were quite easy.

There are several annoying interface decisions in Crazy Boxes. First, you have to play the levels in order. It turns out that this is easy to fix with a little register editing. Usual warnings: if you do not know what you are doing, stop now, do not use regedit, deal with the flaw in the game. If you do know what you are doing, backup your registry first. When the key HKCU\Software\CrazyGames\CrazyBoxes\V1\common\high is set to DHH, Crazy Boxes thinks that all of the levels have been completed. Now using the "One Level Forward" arrow, you can skip any annoying level. I skipped the all levels which did not feature one of the Crazy Boxes specific objects.

Annoying feature number two is that there a scrolling text ad banner at the bottom of the game. This would normally be a deal breaker for me, but luckily, it is just text. Open the executable in your favorite hex editor, search for the scrolling text, and make it all spaces. All gone.

The last annoying feature that there is a click through copyright screen every time the game is launched and exited. Once when the game is installed is fine, but this is crazy. Actually, I am not sure if it a bad translation to English or a bit of a joke on the author's part, but the actual text states, "If you want to use the program, please disregard the following rules:" (my emphasis).
At the author's request, I decided to disregard the rules. I busted out OllyDbg, did a little poking about, and made the pop up screen go away. It was not hard. If you have never done any reverse engineering, this could be a fun project to start with.

The commercial version 2.0 adds better graphics and one new twist. Some levels contain two pushers which have to work together to get all the crates to their targets. There are about 60 levels in demo and over 300 in full version.

A slightly similar flash based game is Puzzle Boy, which a Kwirk remake.


At 2:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you found the link interesting.


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