` START VOL. 5 NO. 7 / APRIL/MAY 1991`

Absolute Zero
The Quest For Nothingness

BY TERRY FERGUSSON

What is the sound of one hand clapping? If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there, is there a sound? Can you play Absolute Zero and win? Ponder these mysteries while you play one of the most frustrating puzzle games you'll ever see.

Follow the disk instructions to un-ARC the file ZERO_ARC.PRG from your back-up START disk onto a play disk. Make sure the files ZERO. PRG and ZERO.MBK are in the same directory, then double-click on ZERO.PRG. Absolute Zero runs on color systems only, and is not compatible with the STE.

The Object Of The Game
Alter you set the level of difficulty, the computer scrambles the playing field by the number of moves you specified. It is your task to make all the numbers identical. This will normally mean returning all the numbers to zero, but you will win as long as all the numbers have the same value. Every puzzle is guaranteed to he solvable; all you have to do is backtrack the computer's scrambling moves. However, it is possible to win without following the exact path backwards.

This is the Absolute Zero play field. It will take you at least 100 moves to bring
all the numbers to absolute zero.

 AT A GLANCE Program:   Type:   Requirements:   Arcfile:   Files: Absolute Zero Puzzle game 512K, low rez, TOS 1.0-1.4 ZERO_ARC.PRG ZERO.MBK ZERO. PRG

The Rules
You can click on any of the 25 squares that make up the hoard. Clicking with the left mouse button adds one to the square and clicking the right mouse button subtracts one. The irritating catch is, all the squares immediately surrounding the square you click on will do the opposite. That is, if you add one to a square. every square surrounding it will have one subtracted; if you subtract one from a square, every square surrounding it will have one added.

Start Simple
I suggest starting out with very small levels of difficulty (like one, Perhaps?) and gradually building your skills. By clicking on ?? when you set your level of difficulty, you are able to put in any number you wish. I solve a 10, and find 25 a consistent challenge.

To win on the more difficult levels, this game requires absolute concentration and a deep understanding of spatial relationships and cause and effect. Or, of course, you can just click away madly until your fingers get sore, like mine. Ouch.

When he's not controlling the airspace around Winnipeg, Manitoba, Terry Fergusson enjoys using and programming his ST. This is his first appearance in START.