Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kindle 3 Games

   I like messing with modded firmware and other ways of increasing the functionality of the gadgets I own, but the Kindle is one I haven't done much with. Since it's a basically a single-purpose device and it performs that one function so well, I haven't had any reason to mess with it, beyond wanting my own screensavers. I have Calibre on my computer to make getting free content onto my Kindle easier, and I've setup services like Instapaper to use along with it, but none of the more technical hacks interest me. It's not as if I really need more fonts. I did want to see what developers with the official Kindle Dev Kit are able to do, so I checked out some of the free games available for it.

   I use my Kindle 3 w/3G all the time, but playing games on it seems weird to me. There's so many books to read, and if you run out you can use the experimental web browser to read tech news, articles or just download more public domain books from Project Gutenberg or elsewhere. Still, I was curious about what kinds of games people were making given the limiting slow refresh speed of the e-ink screen. I found this list of free games for the Kindle and downloaded a few for a quick look.

The Kindle 3 already includes 2 hidden games, a version of Minesweeper and a 5-in-a-Row game. The free games available on the Kindle Store look more professional.
  • Mine Sweeper -  Not the same as the Minesweeper already on the Kindle, looks more like a smartphone game than I expected a Kindle app to. Pretty standard mine sweeper game, I've never really enjoyed Minesweeper or been any good at it but it was interesting to see this rendered in e-ink.
  • Dots and Boxes - This was trickier than I thought it would be. It's a fun little puzzle game, you go up against another player or the computer and take turns drawing lines on a board trying to be the one to complete a box and score points for doing so. Letting the other person go first seems like a good idea. 
  • Number Slide - You know that puzzle where you have a large square with numbered tiles on it and there is one gap that you have to use to move the tiles into order with? I hate that puzzle, so I played this for about 10 seconds.
  • Thread Words - This one was an interesting variation on the standard vocabulary-type word game, where you're given a bunch of letters and have to come up with multiple words based on them. I wasn't any good at it.
   My favorite game was Dots and Boxes, because it's an interesting puzzle game that can be played with someone else. I also liked that it wasn't a word or number based game, like the others. Something like chess or checkers seems like it'd be a good fit for the Kindle but I haven't found a free chess game and I wouldn't play enough to make one worth buying.

   I wish Amazon would open up the Kindle development kit to everyone. A Dropbox app or some similar service for syncing documents not from the Kindle bookstore would be useful, even though such a thing would probably be limited to WiFi-only to keep load down on the free 3G data service.

   Of course the experimental web browser can be used to access files from Dropbox or another cloud storage service, and the free email sync over WiFi is handy too, but some sort of official and simple way to sync documents that aren't from the Kindle store onto my various devices would be great. Now that Amazon has a free web storage service of their own, I imagine they'll integrate it with the Kindle at some point.

   The web browser remains the best way to mess with increasing the functionality of the Kindle, given all the web apps out there. Heck, you can even try to run Zork.


  1. Hey, Shergill:

    Thanks for coming by my site. Appreciate your visits. The games on Kindle Fire should be quite different than those on the Kindle 3.

    Feel free to give those a try as well. When I get my hands on one, will review accordingly.


  2. there is a free chess for the kindle based on qtkindle, but you'll need launchpad to start it