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Impossigames: The 2011 Java4K Challenge

Nng. Fairies.

Come on, you can’t make a game in just four kilobytes. That’s just impossible. It’s crazy talk. It’s… oh, 45 people have done it this year alone, and many dozens more (including none other than Notch) in years gone by. Hmmph.

Java4K is an annual contest to create java-based browser games that use no more than that sainted figure. 4096 bytes. That’s all. By comparison, the 600-word Word document I saved this morning is 31K. We’re really talking about tiny here. But enough about Jim Rossignol. The results of the 2011 contest are in, and you can play all 45 of them right now – including miniature remakes of all manner of retromancers’ favourite games, such as wee Zelda above.

The winner is 4KCube3D, which is somewhere between Marble Madness and a Rubik’s cube, and quite cleverly so. I’m not as a hopelessly useless at is as I am so many logic-based games, which also endears me to it.

Impressive in a different way are 4096 byte demakes/remakes of the likes of Mario, Zelda, Wolfenstein, Double Dragon, Outrun, Star Wars’ Hoth battle and Canabalt. Obviously they’re basic, and the inevitably causality of music and sound hurts them, but the technical achievement remains extraordinary. Four kilobytes. Tiny mind = blown.

But can everyone stop remaking Mario all the damned time now, please? There are one or two other games from the 80s which were quite good too, you know.

Try all of 2011’s entries and winners here. It’s also worth exploring the archives, which feature no less than 8 games (including VVVVVV, Sonic, Left 4 Dead and Lemmings demakes) made by one Markus ‘Notch’ Persson. You may be familiar with his later work.

Thanks for the tip, Kappa (who is a person, not a sportswear firm).

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Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about videogames.

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