5 free coding games where you write javascript to play

If you're itching to write some code, but you can't stand the thought of another MEAN, MERN, or PERN stack, here's a few resources to help you explore javascript using a slightly different approach - games!

Last week, I saw a Reddit comment thread that was asking about coding games - games where you have to write code to play the game. I've heard of a couple over the years, but never explored the genre. I went down the rabbit hole over the weekend, and was amazed at a world I didn't know existed. Here's the games that really stood out to me, and they range from beginner-friendly to advanced development knowledge required.

Flexbox Froggy & Grid Garden

Flexbox Froggy Screenshot
Grid Garden Screenshot

These two games are friendly for those that are learning CSS. Make a frog move around the screen with Flexbox Froggy or plant some carrots with Grid Garden. Even as a dev with decent CSS - some of these took me a minute to figure out. Its not often that you use CSS to control a game!

These games have a bit of chatter around them online so there are also resources for helping you if you get stuck, so you can search for "grid garden answers" to make your way!


Code Combat Screenshot

CodeCombat is an RPG-like game where you have a character that you control with Javascript, Python, or C++ (and Coffeescript!). The game is beginner-friendly for those learning JS or Python. You progress through levels writing different bits of code, and you can level up your skills and abilities as you go through each level. I was a huge fan of Diablo and this feels like that kind of RPG except rather than mouse-clicking all over the screen, you write some Javascript to beat the level.


CodinGame Screenshot

If you thought CodeCombat was fun - get a load of CodinGame. Its pretty feature packed. You go through a series of challenges where you need to write or edit some code to make things happen. As you complete each challenge, you can see your progress on a map. You get achievements for your progress, and access to CodeClash. A CodeClash is a multiplayer challenge where you and a few other people participate in a code challenge - where you try to write code to get the most tests to pass the fastest.

There's a leaderboard, a chat, and you can see other people's submissions (on the Code Clash anyway). They also have practice challenges that have easy/medium/hard difficulty - they have something for everyone here. Easy to spend a fun 20 minutes here.


Untrusted Screenshot

I'm not sure if Untrusted is a play on Unchartered the game, but this game was pretty fun to get started on.

This one is definitely for intermediate-advanced JS developers. Make your way through various puzzles using javascript to help break the puzzle you're in, and move to the next level. The concept and game play was pretty fun and my favorite (maybe a close second behind CodinGame). You have to be able to read Javascript code, and you should at least be good at getting your JS to do the wrong thing (🙋‍♂️ I'm a pro at this by now).

Capture the Flag & CTFLearn

I've always heard of capture the flag events, most in the context of First-Person Shooter games, but I had no idea what a cybersecurity CTF is! A Capture the Flag (CTF) event is where teams are presented with coding or hacking challenges where they need to search for a flag, and then submit it when they find it for points. Most points win.

This is best suited towards someone (or teams) with experience in web technologies, although they do have more beginner-friendly challenges.

What really got me interested in this was running across the Live Overflow channel on YouTube where he goes into what a live CTF event actually looks like behind the scenes. He cut out all the boring parts of it but really goes into how his team participates in the event. I thought it would have been that you can show up and participate, but maybe not! Check it out on YouTube here.

Typically, CTFs are organized by someone and run during some time period. Teams are able to register to participate. The host would usually provide a live environment for hacking or provide files that you'd need to solve the challenge. CTF Time is a useful listing of CTF events around the global, around the year.

CTF Learn Screenshot

If you don't want to participate in a live event with a team, CTFLearn is a way to practice Capture-the-Flag style challenges across a variety of topics in the systems space. I did a few bits of the Forensics challenge on CTFLearn and it really got me scratching my head for a bit - definitely a fun challenge, but made me question whether I knew how to solve it or not.

I hope at least one of these games piques your interest, there's something here for every difficulty level. If you do try one of these out - leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter @intricatecloud and let me know what you thought!

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