Oh Hi: Oh Hi

The best puzzle games are those where you never have to guess. It’s why Minesweeper is a steaming pile of elephant poo, and Picross is the greatest thing to happen to humanity. Oh Hi, a neat, simple web-based game by Q42, is in the correct category.

A straight rendition of Takuzu (Binary Puzzle), it tidies up the traditional 1s and 0s portrayal with red and blue squares, which must be distributed evenly about 4×4 to 10×10 grids, following a simple set of rules.

Each row and column must have an equal number of blues and reds, no more than three blues or reds can be in a row, and no two rows or columns can feature the same pattern. That’s your lot, and from this, you logically find the solution.

Created by Martin Kool (can that be a real name? I hope so), it’s a very clean presentation of the puzzle, randomly generating completable grids in four different sizes. If you get stuck (which you really oughtn’t after you’ve gotten used to it), there’s a button that will reveal the row or column that contains the next move, and should you have made a mistake ages back you can take back turns one by one.

There’s lots that could yet be added to this. Right now there’s some sort of ambiguous points system that amounts to nothing, and as puzzles are randomly generated, there’s no collection to work your way through, gold star, etc. There also aren’t any sound effects. It’d be lovely to see the creator work out some of the more interesting starting positions, and set them up as collections. Then mix it up with, say, stars for completing in the minimum number of clicks, under a certain time limit, and the like. And it would be especially good to see the concept elaborated upon. Takuzu is by far one of the simplest in the logic puzzle congregation, and likely has room for a couple of twists and turns. Even the 10×10 grids here will quickly stop offering challenge. However, they continue to provide a calm, methodical task, which is often all a good person wants from their puzzling.

It’s all free, and plays with no fuss. Take a look.

26 Comments

  1. ElDopa says:

    A really nice puzzle game :)

  2. jezcentral says:

    Jon continues his quest to find games that can be played while juggling chainsaws with one hand. Or something.

    EDIT: The first line also applies to the difference between Hitmans Blood Money and Absolution.

  3. macaddct says:

    Awesome puzzle game and it plays natively on a smartphone! Although this would make a great offline app

    • c-Row says:

      Just give it some time and someone will release a mobile ripo… uh, version.

      [edit] Ha – it appears that there already is an official iOS app. And a ripoff.

  4. shinygerbil says:

    As alluded to in the article, Picross is one of the finest puzzle games ever. Are there any similarly functional, easy-to-use and attractive web versions of this?

    • KDR_11k says:

      The generic term for Picross is “nonograms”, maybe that’ll help.

      • shinygerbil says:

        A quick Google about 7 years ago told me that, but thanks.

        Besides the versions on DS/3DS I have never found anything with a really great control scheme. (Similar to digital versions of Sudoku I guess.)

        Just wondered if there was some fantastic little gem I’d somehow missed, as I’ve never come away feeling satisfied.

    • Gramarye says:

      My favorite online picross is called Picma (link to JayIsGames). I’ve yet to find a decent Android version, though.

  5. li says:

    For a great collection of free puzzles, most of them playing without guessing, Simon Tatham’s portable puzzle collection!

    That’s not new at all, but I’m personnally hooked up to “Net” in this collection for a good while, you can just make yourself a huge grid, and quietly sort it out.

    • SuperTim says:

      If you like Tatham’s collection, then check out Unruly in that collection, which has exactly the same rules.

      Another example is Tic-Tac-Logic from Conceptis, which also has exactly the same rules.

      These Binary puzzles are sold here on paper (like Sudoku) and they’ve selling these for years now.

  6. RanDomino says:

    Hey, that’s not fair to Minesweeper. Sure, every once in a while you have to guess, but I always found it was extremely rare and only necessary as a calculated last resort. If you think Minesweeper was ruined by guessing you were probably playing it wrong.

    • Llewyn says:

      Well, yes and no. You have to guess a starting position every single time, and guess repeatedly until you hit a blank to get enough information to start working. I’d also dispute ‘extremely rare’ for unsolveable boards – there are plenty of combinations of mine positions, particularly around the board edges, that can lead to insufficient information to solve.

      That said, I’d agree that Minesweeper isn’t ruined by this. It’s certainly worse for it but the underlying puzzle solving is still excellent, with the added bonus of the clock to challenge yourself against.

      • DrollRemark says:

        Pedant’s point here, but the starting click in Minesweeper is always guaranteed to be safe.

        That doesn’t mean it’ll be any good, mind.

      • El_Emmental says:

        The problem is that we’re not really sure what people mean when they say they can no longer know if a square is safe or mined:
        – you have the basic level of “number tells that mine must be here”
        – then you have the “mine is either here, or here ; when combining that with the nearby number, I know it is here”
        – and finally you have people who can assign and remember probabilities to each squares, count the number of remaining mines and the remaining possible outcomes, to finally make much safer decisions.

        • Llewyn says:

          I think “insufficient information to solve” is clear enough. For example, with one mine remaining, you’re presented with:

          ------ - Board edge
          2XOOX2 X Mine
          2X33X2 O Unrevealed square
          111111

          • El_Emmental says:

            That example is simple and yes we can’t do anything but try.

            However, if we have a system where there’s 4 or 6 unrevealed squares, by combining the “the mine is either in A, B or C squares” for each revealed squares, we can actually determine a lot more, or at least find a better randomness (1/3 is a mine, rather than 1/2).

            Same by looking at the entire grid, counting the remaining mines, assigning them to each “group” of unrevealed squares, to find out if a group has 2 or 3, 3 or 4, 4 or 5 mines. It can become quite complex, having to juggle between the total/local mines count and the combined probabilities assigned to each unrevealed squares, while the clock is ticking. That part of the game is often overlooked by the people who call Minesweeper an “unfair” game, just like how Monopoly is “boring”, when the whole auction part is removed.

    • Gramarye says:

      I don’t agree. I was often forced to guess, because two squares with one mine that could be in either pops up often. It really sucks to play one of the larger maps, diligently clear it of almost every mine, then get stuck with a 50/50 chance of losing everything.

      • El_Emmental says:

        That’s a great overlooked depth of Minesweeper in my opinion: at the end of the day, no matter how logical and skilled you are at logic and deduction, your life/game is still at the mercy of randomness.

    • Premium User Badge

      NationOfThizzlam says:

      That day I commented on RPS defending Minesweeper…

      Guessing, gambling, and randomness can be fun. Like a dice roll or a skill check in an RPG. Yes, I get that this is usually one mechanic of many in an RPG, whereas puzzle mechanics comprise the whole experience in a puzzle game. But Minesweeper’s guessing is pretty limited and in keeping with the theme of the game (sweeping for mines is dangerous look out!). Nothing unduly frustrating or unfair.

  7. lylebot says:

    The scoring is simple: number of points = number of tiles on the board.

    I have to say I don’t love the “no two rows/columns can be identical” constraint. The effort requires to check that manually is significantly greater than the other constraints, or other constraints in similar grid puzzle games. Not to mention the difficulty it adds to keeping track of various possible solutions in your head.

    • Scurra says:

      ^ This. Whilst it is necessary to make the puzzles solvable rather than just guesswork, it’s also a massive flaw in that it is necessary to make the puzzle solvable.

      • PhilWal says:

        I agree. I prefer the way Conceptis Puzzles handles this in their variant of this kind of puzzle, Tic-Tac-Logic (noughts and crosses instead of red and blue squares). You can ‘pin’ a row/column by clicking on the right/bottom, then mouse over other rows/columns. If there’s a possible match between the two, they both highlight green. Here’s a link to try their take on it.