Sherlock for iPhone

I have written many articles about my love, passion, enjoyment, fascination, and overall obsession with the games of Everett Kaser. Everett, who has the worst web site in the world, writes puzzle games. Many of these games are based on boolean algebra, which is enough to make them warm the cockles of any software developer’s heart.

A while ago I sent Mr. Kaser mail expressing my wish to see Sherlock, or his other fine puzzle games, on the iPhone or iPad. Superlatives may have been used. It is possible, although not certain, that I used the phrase “leaving money on the table”. Rumor has it that I implied that if he did not develop for this platform, he was as mad as a hatter that had mated with a March Hare.

This week I was pleased to discover that Sherlock, the Game of Logic has been released for the iPhone. The price: free, which gets you the first 10 puzzles in each size. The other 50,000 puzzles per size can be purchased in-app for a mere $2.99. Since I wrote one e-mail to Everett suggesting that he port his game to the platform, I am happy to take full credit for all the hard work behind it. You’re welcome. It’s not easy being the “idea man,” but one does what one can.

The game is an iPhone game, but runs fairly well on the iPad. The UI is primitive – we are, after all, talking about a game that is essentially a direct port of an ancient DOS game – but has a few nice touches. The nicest is that he has implemented a clever “zoom” when working with a given group of possibilities. The single biggest downside of the game is that there is no on- screen text explaining what each of the clues mean. Not a problem to someone like me, who has been playing the game for (oh, God) 20 years, but its probably a bit offputting to new players, who will have to keep diving into the text-heavy help screen. Dismissing versus promoting a possibility presents an interesting UI conundrum. The mechanism Kaser has chosen is that tapping a possibility dismisses it, and tapping and holding it promotes it (or rather, declares that you think it is the correct answer for a given position in the matrix). That’s not terribly discoverable, but the only other way you could do it, I’d think, would be to somehow drag possibilities to “select” and “reject” zones. It works, but I do inevitably get confused at least once per game and do the opposite of what I meant to.

Sherlock is not for everyone. I suspect that the fairly primitive graphics and some of the slapdash UI may turn some people off. But if you can see past that, what you have in your hand is one of the best simple puzzle games of the PC era. On your phone. For free.

I don’t give stars or numeric ratings on Tea Leaves. But if you have an iPhone or iPad, you should go download Sherlock right now. You owe it to your little gray cells.