Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Great DOS Game Updated for Today

Back in the DOS and Windows 3.0 days I found a PC game that gave me hundreds of hours of fun. It was actually rather addictive.

Sherlock is a tile-based game that harkens back to the word puzzles we've seen in magazines for years. You may recall the one - you have a couple that throws a party and invites guests. Based on the clues given -  this person is not with that person, this couple brought a pie, another couple brought a main dish, etc., you figure out who each couple is, what color car each drove, what dish each brought, and so on.

I was never good at the word puzzles in magazines. I'd get everything mixed up. Then I discovered Sherlock, which had something like 6,999 iterations. I was somewhere in the 4,000s when I got too busy to play and it didn't work in Windows anyway. I moved on.

The important thing was that I got rather good at it. Because I'm a visual learner, the tiles that showed which items were already a given (known), which people or items could not be next to each other, and which ones were next to each other or only two tiles away from each other, all made sense to my brain. The game has a timer, too, so I worked on solving the puzzles in under 10 minutes to increase the challenge.

An important thing happened to me as a result of playing this game so much. It trained my brain. When I took the GREs (Graduate Record Exam) in the 80s, which I had not been required to take for my master's degree, many of the math questions were word puzzles.

For example, you own a tree farm and one type of tree must be planted next to another while a third tree type cannot be planted next to the first type - and so on. But your plot area must contain 6 types of trees. You have to carefully arrange the plantings so the answer works for all the tree types.

I quickly drew grids on the question sheet for each of these math questions and worked through the clues as if it were Sherlock! And I did well on the math questions; better than I have ever done before - a large increase in my scores.

Imagine my delight when I recently searched for Sherlock and discovered a Windows version! Everett Kaser owns the copyright to Sherlock and other logic and puzzle games "intended to stretch your mind." There's a free download that lets you play 5 iterations of each variation. You can start out with a fairly easy variation, 3 sets of tiles, move up to 4, then 5, and so on, up to 8.

I spent the $20 to get the full version, after trying the free download to make sure it really was the same game I remembered. I don't have a lot of time to play computer games, but this is one game that helps me keep my mind sharp. It even lets me know when I 'm too tired to think clearly because I will overlook simple clues and make dumb mistakes. That's when it's time to take a break.

Appropriate for every age, Sherlock can be a great way to introduce word math puzzles to yourself or your children.

Image of the tile game Sherlock