In context: Wordle is a simple word game similar to the colored-peg game Mastermind. Players get six guesses to find a five-letter word. The letters turn different colors for each guess to hint at how close the player’s guess is. Green means the letter is in the correct place, yellow means it is in the word but is in the wrong place, and no change means the letter is not in the word.
A Nintendo hacker has successfully ported the smash hit internet word game Wordle to the original Game Boy. Nintendo discontinued the Game Boy 19 years ago, so it’s not likely that you still own one. However, even if you own one, you would also have to have a way to flash the ROM onto a blank GB cartridge.
Fortunately, security researcher and Nintendo enthusiast, “stacksmashing,” also created a version for the Analogue Pocket that can run from a microSD card. Both ROMs are hosted on GitHub, where anyone can download them freely. Alternatively, he also emulated it on the web.
If you are unaware of what Wordle is, I’d be amazed. Not only has the pandemic pastime gone viral on social media, but it has also made numerous headlines over the last couple of months. It has become such a household word that The New York Times recently paid Josh Wardle, the game’s creator, an undisclosed “six-figure sum” for the game, spurring thoughts that the online version would soon be behind a paywall.
A nerdy detail: The ROM size is very limited, so I couldn’t fit in a big wordlist of “real” words. Instead I’m using a bloom filter to check (with, admittedly, currently a very high error-rate) whether an entered word is one of the 8000 most common English words 😀
— stacksmashing (@ghidraninja) February 6, 2022
Unfortunately for the NYT, the game has been so widely disseminated that it is unlikely that anyone will pay to play it. Wardle wrote the game in plain HTML, so it was not long before someone cracked it. There are dozens of copycat apps on Google Play and the Apple App Store. You can even save the Wordle page as a web archive file and play it entirely offline since it does not retrieve anything from a server. And now it’s on Game Boy and Analogue Pocket.
The ROM differs slightly from the internet browser game. According to stacksmashing, the size of the ROM is limited. So while the HTML version has a very reliable checking mechanism for entered words, his GB port has a “high error rate” when checking for real-word guesses.
“The ROM size is very limited, so I couldn’t fit in a big wordlist of ‘real’ words,” he explained on Twitter. “Instead, I’m using a bloom filter to check (with, admittedly, currently a very high error-rate) whether an entered word is one of the 8000 most common English words.”
This caveat means that if you use a bogus word, it may use up a guess. However, stacksmashing’s use of the word “currently” suggests he may have a more refined ROM later down the line. Until then, players will have to be more careful not to use questionable words or spelling.