Previous Next


To the old Gatchaman fandom, SameGame is synonymous with MaciGame, so called because it was for the Mac but, ironically, running under (16-bit) Windows because what was introduced to them through a tileset made of Gatchaman characters, was the Windows port. Linux had its own SameGame and generally comes with two versions, KSame for KDE and SameGnome (now called Swell Foop) for Gnome. An unrelated freeware game on the same principle is Clickomania for Windows 9xx. There is even a cross-platform (as the viewer that plays it is programmed in Java) SameGame clone in the form of an UltraKiSS set.

The idea is to make a chain of identical blocks adjacent to each other disappear by clicking on any block in the chain. The blocks don't have to be in straight lines, just as long as their sides are touching. As they disappear, the blocks above them fall down, sometimes forming new chains, or breaking up old ones. SameGame could be called a variation on Tetris, since the objective is to clear the game board, only the board is already filled instead of having blocks drop in it. There are variations in the implementation, though. Firstly, are points awarded for clicking away the longest possible chain, or is the main objective to completely clear the board? Clickomania bases the score only on how much blocks have been cleared; most game implementations do count chain length, MaciGame even basing its sound effect on it. Clicking on a minimum-length chain produces a "twirly-doop" sound, a longer chain goes "twirlytwirly-doop" and a really long chain snaking its way all over the board will disappear with a satisfying "twirlytwirlytwirlytwirlytwirlytwirlytwirlytwirly-doop!". It is possible that this sound effect alone was responsible for the extremely addictive nature of MaciGame.

Secondly, what are the graphics, and are they skinnable? (Here is where it gets interesting to fans and modders.) Potentially customizable features are: how big is the gameboard, do the blocks have colours or graphics, how many different colours/graphics are used in one gameboard, is it possible to change the graphics by loading a different tileset, does the game reward the player with a background image, is it possible to load the image of one's choice (like one's favourite anime character), and do the blocks in a chain display an amusing animation when the mouse hovers over them? MaciGame accepted custom tilesets - though no background image, as the background was a tile in the tileset image - where each tile had a "normal" and a "hover" graphic. The artist who made three Gatchaman-based tilesets had the characters' expressions turn to horror when they realized they were in a chain about to disappear. But how do the other games compare?

Still playable in windows 7, though sadly without twirly-doops.

KSame has marbles or beach balls that highlight, and a background image; in openSUSE 13.1 it has three themes, each with "Clickety" in the name, that remind of Clickomania, to which it is similar.

SameGnome, which, in openSUSE 11.3, where it is called Swell Foop, no longer works, had a choice of animated shapes (especially the planet set was nice) but as far as I remember from working versions, no background image, and certainly no way to pick one. Since I can't see for myself, here is the texts lifted from an online manual:

To change the appearance of the objects use the Theme item in the View menu. Selecting an item from the list changes the theme immediately.

You can also create your own themes, although the process is not very straight-forward yet. Use a copy of an existing theme as a template and alter it with your favorite paint program. Put the result in $XDG_DATA_HOME/gnome-games/swell-foop/themes/2.10/. It will be automatically included on the themes list next time you run Swell Foop. $XDG_DATA_HOME is usually ~/.local/share/.

I've installed Swell Foop in Linux Mint where it does work. The round shapes have been replaced with coloured squares with rounded corners that show a "staggering" animation when the mouse hovers over them. If I look in /usr/share/gnome-games/swell foop/themes, I only see the subdirectories for the themes "Tango" and "Test"; maybe the old themes needed converting and this hasn't been done yet. The image format is SVG and there is a "bkg.svg" so it should be possible to insert a custom background, with a paint program that supports SVG. In openSUSE 13.1, Swell Foop works, but still only with the coloured squares; the revolving planet theme has not been implemented.

Clickomania, which has its own site (see links), had a background and plain coloured blocks, letting the user choose only a background image and the number of colours, in "Classic Clickomania"; a new version has since come out with different themes and a more complicated way of wangling one's background into these themes, explained in the helpfile. I suspect that a smart hacker could also find a way to insert new themes. Clickomania has gone from the least to the most feature-rich game in the list because its themes not only set the tiles and background, but also board game and sound effects, so hacking it would definitely be worth a try. The screen captures below show first the classic game, as run under Windows ME, then, run in openSUSE/Gnome through Wine, (which even helpfully placed an icon on my desktop) the "classic" look and the "4 colours" theme which has a background, beginning to become visible as blocks are deleted.

The "action" theme has custom blocks that do heretofore unthought-of things like erasing a whole row of blocks. The websearch done to refresh my knowledge of this game tells me that SameGame has spawned increasingly fancier clones, with more features and possibilities and even Tetris-style falling blocks. None of that matches a good long twirly-doop, though.

And then there is one of the three proof-of-concept games included in the UltraKiSS set (go here for a description of UltraKiSS). It appears to have the least features of all, with no themes or animations, but then of course coding a game like this even in extended FKiSS is hard enough in itself. As a KiSS set is not a game proper but more a collection of game files that can be loaded into a viewer, it does not of course have themes, but one easy way to customize it is to open the archive and simply replace the graphics files with new ones. The result is strictly for personal use, as KiSS artists will not be pleased if anyone releases a set with their (uncredited) code in it. Anyhow, this is what it looks like:

Previous Top Next