Sunday, April 6, 2008


You know those crappy five-dollar CD-ROMs that have 'hundreds of games' on them, only they're, y'know, really bad shareware from ten years ago? Gtkboard is like one of those, only unfinished.

According to the website, the actual inspiration for the title seems reasonable: since the AI for all of the single-player board-games they saw were essentially the same, why not just do every board game in a single game? Sounds alright if vaguely sketchy; I don't understand how say, Risk or Clue would utilize the same AI as a chess game. Regardless, I'm positive that Pac-Man isn't a board-game anyways, so whatever good intentions that they start with, the inevitable grandiose feature-bloat that kills all Linux projects kicked in, and left Gtkboard an unfinished pile of crap that occasionally works.

There are thirty-two games in this collection, most of which are played on some sort of board, and are two-player games. Most of those are playable single-player with AI. Maybe twenty or so of the games are fully implemented; the rest are either completely unplayable, or playable but so broken that there's no point. The Pac-Man clone strikes me as the single worst iteration of that storied franchise I've ever encountered, finished or not; most people don't release something that broken, even in beta. It's not fun, but it's funny.

Tetris features here, and it's pretty much a less-pretty version of Gnometris (review here), but unlike Gnometris, the tetris clone in Gtkboard actually works. So if nothing else, Gtkboard is an option if you're looking for a barebones tetris-clone. There are better out there. The only other thing that was neat and never crashed to the desktop on me was the maze game. You move a cursor from one corner to the opposite, through a maze. It reminded me of elementary school.

Generally, I've been running a lot of reviews that boil down to 'This is a very minimalist and ugly game, but it functions' - that's only half right in this case. Guess which half? That's right - this game doesn't function! Even in the case of the 'fully implemented' games that were supposed to work flawlessly, the program kept crashing back to the desktop.

The project has been dead since 2003. I don't know why this is even in the packages... it's a broken project that isn't even being developed anymore, and so will never progress beyond the half-coded shambles it's in at present. This one gets a 'don't bother' rating with prejudice. There are better ways to play
virtually everything in this package.

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