By: Derek Yu

On: September 24th, 2009


Joe Larson has released ASCIIpOrtal, his ASCII demake of… Portal. I’ll be honest, I know that there are other demakes of Portal out there (at least two from our Demakes Competition), but I’m not very familiar with them. This one is well-made, however – seeing “through” the portals is a nifty visual effect and the puzzles are nice and challenging. The game comes with a level editor as an added bonus.

Just One More Game conducted an interview with Joe for the launch of the game.

TIGdb: Entry for ASCIIpOrtal

  • AClarkFS

    this is beautiful

  • Screwtape

    I got stuck on level 10, after getting through the chain-link and falling into the pit with spikes at the bottom. If I had more rightward momentum, I could make it to the cave just below the chain-link window, but I can’t see how to get it. :(

  • EToaster

    It’s pretty cool, but the portal-view thing is incredibly disorienting and makes it hard to see what’s going on a lot of the time.

  • CI

    It’s awkward and clunky. Whilst portal was incredibly fluid, this game’s jerky movement makes it almost unplayable.
    I get that that’s what you’d expect from a roguelike, so perhaps the main lesson to be taken from this game is that roguelikes make for bad platformers.

  • KaL

    CI …wtf are you talking about…just because it’s ASCII doesn’t mean it’s a roguelike.

  • Kyo

    Having to press a direction for two hours before the lil’ dude moves = no thanks.

  • Cymon

    I love how every outlet has their own complaints. Joystiq doesn’t like the look, and you guys don’t like the controls.

    Thing is, of all the parts of ASCIIpOrtal the controls are one of the things I didn’t like, but I didn’t fix it because doing so would have meant I’d have to remove the ability to make a true curses version that plays exactly the same. For some reason that was one of my unwritten goals. Consequently sometimes you need to tap-tap-tap to do quick movements and sometimes you have to give yourself a second before doing a long run, which if you’ve play a lot of roguelikes (Or done a bunch of text editing for that reason) you should be used to.

    However, next revision which will bring the game into the browser I think will include a revised control scheme.

  • Greg

    You are playing roguelikes wrong if you are holding down keys.

  • Kyo

    Or maybe you are just not playing roguelikes.

  • sinoth

    Yeah, the controls are a bit finicky, but it’s turn based. It isn’t meant to be a fluid experience like the original Portal. The game tries to convey the puzzles in 2D, and does it well. Sexy ASCII animated viewports are icing on the cake.

  • Bob

    The fact that the Portal gameplay was ported into an ASCII game (and that it actually works) still amazes me.

    Also, the music is very purdy.

  • saw this on byteacker

    WOOT Joe Larson!

  • Epitaph64

    You do have to hold down keys in mid-air to adjust your direction, so it’s not completely turn based.

  • Alex

    the level design was what turned me off of it. the controls really aren’t designed for precise, quick movements, yet most of the puzzles seem to require them. i was expecting some clever 2D brain teasery stuff, instead i got dodging barrels with an awkward control scheme.

  • bee sting jr

    I thought the fast-tapping action was a fun challenge, very reminiscent of Boulder Dash. In fact, the game is essentially Boulder Dash with a Portal twist, great combo of action and puzzle. Complaining that the movement is jerky is like complaining that the original super mario bros is too slippery; it’s something you’re expected to attune yourself to and is ultimately a fundamental part of the game. Seriously why does every new game with old-school controls get hated on in the comments?
    (rhetorical question, it’s because people are dumb)

  • Kyo

    Yeah, that’s right. And that’s why sick people don’t use old-school medicine. ’cause they’re dumb. Leeches work just as well as anything we’re using these days.


  • bee sting jr

    Medicine is not an expressive medium, unless you’re grafting horns on people or something.

  • CI

    It’s not old school controls that get hated on. It’s bad controls. I have absolutely no problem with turn based, grid based movement in traditional roguelikes. I just believe that in this circumstance, when applied to a platformer, that they detract from the game. I appreciate the effort that’s gone into this, and it’s an interesting experiment in what can be done with the toolset he’s chosen. However, as a gamer, my reaction is “This is a clunky game.”

  • Bob

    The ending was all worth it.

  • boomlinde

    Guys, guys. Having ASCII graphics does not make it a roguelike.

    As for the game, it’s kind of fun but it got too frustrating after a while. You know, when you know exactly how you would solve a puzzle, but the clunky controls get in the way. Meh. Like the in-game music, though!

  • Bryce

    The controls aren’t sluggish. I’m having trouble aiming fast enough to shoot off two portals in two different directions in the air, but that’s the only trouble I’ve had so far.

  • Ezuku

    So… very…. very….. hard…..

    This makes me realise just how easy the original portal is.