Sometimes I get into the situation that I upload something and have to rewrite it completely almost immediately. That happened now with Fruits Fields. It started with the name. It’s really Fruits Fields, not Fruit Fields, as I had erroneously read it first.
Fruits Fields is a Japanese game. It was first published by Compac for Sharp X68000 (some info and screenshots here and here). The original author seems to be unknown. It has obviously become something of a classic in Japan and other parts of eastern Asia. It has been remade for Palm and as a browser game in CGI and Java. And there is this Windows version by Leslie Tsang, a resident of Hongkong.
Leslie Tsang originally wrote his Windows version in 1992 in Turbo Pascal. In 1995 he rewrote it in Delphi with some enhancements, for example optional 256 color graphics. The game does not choose them automatically if the desktop has the necessary color depth, you have to do so yourself on the options screen, found in the game menu. There are ten tiles each for walls and walking space, which are chosen randomly, and independently of each other, when the level loads. This system has some drawbacks, since the two tiles then sometimes lack contrast. That’s not a real problem, but it’s not good design either.
At the start of the game you are prompted to create or select a player. When you shut down the game, this player’s progress will be saved. It is possible to jump ahead to any higher level, but not back to a lower one, whether it has been solved or not or has not even be played at all. To play a lower level (again), you have to create a new player. It is not possible to do so, or switch players, without exiting the game first.
This is the first level. It is not designed to offer any challenge, just to become familiar with the controls and mechanics. The object is to collect all the fruit. The cyan squares with the arrows are blocks, obstacles. They can be triggered from any side except the one to which the arrow is pointing. They will then slide in the direction of the arrow till they reach something that stops them. They can be crushed against anything that would stop them to make room or for extra points, but only from behind. There’s one exception: A block cannot be crushed against a block pointing in the opposite direction. Such a pair of blocks is immovable and indestructible.
Note that the status bar shows fruits left and the score, but not the time. Time is not an issue in this game, only the number of steps taken count against your score.
This is the second level. It is still rather easy, but it teaches an important thing: Blocks can be crushed against fruit as well. It’s the only way to solve this level.
I have chosen the screenshots so that each shows a different set of tiles. Screenshots with 16-color tiles have a dark blue title bar, screenshots with 256-color tiles a pale blue title bar. With some tiles, there’s little difference or none at all. In some cases it might even be said that the 16-color tiles look better. On the whole I’d still recommend using the 256-color tiles if possible.
Now it gets really tough. To solve the third level, you’ll have to think around quite a few corners.
Level four is fairly easy again. There isn’t that much you can really do wrong.
Level five is a bit tougher. On first sight it looks easy, but how do you get both of the bottom fruits? Actually you just have to do a bit of what you did on level two. This is the last level I’ve actually played so far. About level six, I don’t know more than what you can see now too:
That’s all for now. Fruits Fields for Windows is not without flaws, but it will probably be one of those nowadays rare games that keep me playing. And unless you want to mess around with an X68000 emulator, it’s the only way to play this Japanese classic at all. So the Middle Kingdom made this gem of the Land of the Rising Sun available to the realms of the setting sun. And that is actually a nice thought.
Download Fruits Fields for Windows if you want to try it yourself.