|Source // YouTube|
Sokoban just sounds like a space shooter, doesn't it? It's futuristic, it's foreign, and seeing as it's the 1980s, there's a high chance of that all being true. Except of course that it isn't the case at all, and Sokoban is actually about moving boxes around a warehouse.
Why wouldn't it be?
|Sokoban Online does get harder than this|
I couldn't tell you anything about where I first encountered Sokoban. It might have been a flash game in the early 2000s, where you'd whizz through the easy levels, make a mistake somewhere and then close it to play Curveball, I just don't remember.
The goal of each level is to move boxes from wherever they've been carelessly abandoned into their correct place. It isn't Spring Cleaning: The Video Game, however. No, instead of mindless repetitive tasks that need to be completed before progressing, it's a game of repetitive tasks that need to be completed before progressing that will tax your mind, and tax it hard.
Generally speaking, boxes can only be pushed, so it's a game that requires planning ahead and thinking carefully - a great alternative to gamers who don't have the reaction times for shooters, but do have the puzzle solving ability required for Sokoban.
|Google can find a few versions for you...|
It's also everywhere, having had 30 odd years for developers the world over to port it, remake it, adapt it, clone it, use it as a minigame in a bigger game... You can't not find a Sokoban game of some sort to play.
Thanks to a few Google searches, I had a number of different Sokoban games ready to play, both online and off. Some looked off putting, some welcoming. Some looked barebones, others highly polished, but all were essentially Sokoban.
Unfortunately, that means sometimes my brain wasn't taxed in the slightest, whereas other times I was caught out and stumped by level 2. There were versions where the only things to think about were boxes, but there were nine boxes in a confined playing arena, so the solution requires a fair bit of thought. There were other versions where buttons, holes in the floor, or different box types changed the gameplay just a little bit.
Each version has its own pros and cons, and you can find versions with everything you want and then some. With a dedicated worldwide following there are versions that allow you to not only undo your moves, but show hints, solutions, even automatically navigate your character to where you want to be, or straight up autocomplete levels for you.
While all share the same concept, proving that it has stood the test of time, these vast differences amongst versions can lead to a huge range of first impressions. If your first encounter is with a monster of a level, will you bother playing it in future, no matter what version you come across?
Perhaps I was lucky in first encountering some easy levels, way back when, because while I can see the appeal of the game and I'm grateful for the vast amount of ways to play it these days, I can easily see why someone wouldn't play Sokoban for too long.
I would suggest having a look around though, because once you find a version you like, you can find yourself in the zone and time just flies by.
Sokoban won't give your fingers a workout (unless you're going for speed, I guess), but your brain will benefit more than it usually does from video games so far.
As many many simple games, teaching the rules of Sokoban to a computer is a piece of cake. Getting that computer to solve the more complex maps can still be challenging though, to the point of being pointless. The way our brains tackle the problem can lead to the solution quicker than a computer trying out every single possibility one by one, but that doesn't stop scientific research from trying to create the best box stacking warehouse robots.
Sokoban, developed by Hiroyuki Imabayashi, first released in 1982.