News :: Game Release - Enigma

Date: 2014-11-18, Author: Dan "senquack" Silsby, Editor: Surkow

A clever and expansive puzzle game

Our latest release is Enigma, a popular open-source Linux puzzle game centered around moving marbles on-screen, driven by a great physics engine. Be one of the first to play this awesome game using the GCW Zero's g-sensor! Based on the classic Atari ST game, Oxyd, Engima expands even further on its many ideas, even supporting puzzle concepts such as sokoban and pentominos. Enigma comes complete with over 600 original community-created levels. If that isn't enough, you can also install the community-created level packs containing over 250 Oxyd-inspired levels. To make it even better, owners of the original Oxyd series of games can install the original games' data files and play their over-350 original levels, as Enigma supports loading them directly. Let's have a closer look at what Enigma is all about...

It all started in 1989 when Meinolf Schneider, a German programmer, released his unique game, Esprit, for the Atari ST, followed quickly in 1990 with the very popular Oxyd. These games introduced the core concepts Enigma later adopted: moving a marble around physics-driven "landscapes," attempting to touch and match different "Oxyd-stones" together to complete a level. Oxyd contained over 100 levels, had what was then impressive sound support, and used the Atari ST's high-resolution monochrome video mode. It featured over a hundred types of tiles and objects. Some levels allowed for two players to cooperate, using a MIDI cable to link two computers together. Its shareware-based distribution method, combined with its quality level design and unique concepts, quickly made it a classic amongst logic puzzle lovers.

Meinolf Schneider followed up the success of Oxyd with several sequels that supported a range of platforms such as Amiga, DOS, Windows, Macintosh, and even NeXT. There was Oxyd 2 in 1991, Oxyd Magnum in 1993, and eventually the more modern-looking version of Oxyd 2 in 1995, called Per.Oxyd, and, finally, Oxyd Extra in 1996. The later versions of the game allowed the two-player levels to be played by just one person, by switching off the player's control of the two differently-colored marbles. Enigma also supports this, opening up a whole new selection of levels for the single player.

Sadly, in 2002, Dongleware and Meinolf Schneider got out of the game-making business. A programmer by the name of Daniel Heck led a team of individuals to create an open-source recreation of the game, which became Enigma. Enigma is written in C/C++ and uses the Lua programming language and XML to define the levels, so it is very flexible, allowing new concepts, tiles, and objects to become part of the game. The game does not forget its roots, however, and is able to directly load and play all the old Oxyd ".DAT" level files, even playing the original sound and music contained in them. The compatibility is so good that over 90-95% of the original levels are completable. Users that do not own the original games or want only levels that are guaranteed to be compatible can instead install the community-created Oxyd-inspired "Deja-Vu" level sets.

"Senquack" has included instructions on how to do all of this in the "More Info" section of Enigma's official repository entry. For support questions and further instructions, please refer to the official Enigma for GCW Zero release thread on the Dingoonity forums.

The main part of the game is the Oxyd-stone levels. You must find all the matched-color pairs of Oxyd stones. There are up to twelve different colors of stones and their location is shuffled each play when you load a level. Many traps and hazards will come your way, along with special items and tiles like moving blocks, springs, and laser beams. Fortunately, the game comes with numerous tutorial levels to help bring you up to speed if you've never played before.

There are several other types of levels found in the game: "Meditation" landscapes require you to place several smaller balls into shallow depressions, the trick being that all the balls roll together, challenging your dexterity and resolve. "Sokoban" landscapes require you to push blocks into cleverly-positioned spots, usually requiring quite a mental workout. "Pentominos" landscapes involve placing a set of pre-defined shapes into a confined area of the board, rotating and positioning them just-so.

The GCW Zero port benefits from some added features: since the game was meant to be played with a mouse, "senquack" has added analog joystick control, along with adjustable speeds mapped to three of the buttons, making for four movement speeds total. What is even better is that the GCW Zero's g-sensor can be used as well! Enigma turns out to be the perfect game for this, as the feeling of the tilt-control is quite natural. Users can customize all of these new features however they like, because the port has a custom "Controls" screen in the settings. To make matters even easier, a handy GCW Zero controls reference is found in-game under the "Help" button on the main menu.

So, take some time to explore this classic game using this great port. All levels can be played in any order, so if you ever get frustrated you can just skip to the next. No need to lose your marbles!