Sure, you could use your copy of Microsoft Excel to create the business model for your next big multi-million dollar venture, or to calculate last month’s sales for your used car dealership, but why not put it to some really good use and play some arcade games with it instead?
Apparently, programming video games using insanely complex Excel Visual Basic macros is a bit of an art form in Japan. As a matter of fact, everything from Pac-Man to Space Invaders to Missile Command has been recreated with astounding detail using Excel macros.
Other spreadsheet games include versions of Donkey Kong, Dig Dug and Tetris. All in all, there are literally dozens of arcade classics that can be played in Excel. I’m especially impressed by the version of Arkanoid, complete with mouse and audio support (you don’t even know you’re in Excel when this one plays).
To play these games for yourself, just download the game you want from this website. Click on the Japanese links at the top of the page to choose different games. Then extract the .XLS from the archive (you may need something that can open LZH archives for some of these files), enable macros, and run the macro titled “start” or similar. Some of the games are a bit hit or miss due to problems with Japanese characters in the code, but I was able to get quite a few of them to play just fine on my machine. As a matter of fact, I was able to get a number of these games to run in the latest, greatest version of Excel 2007.
Once you’re up and running you can play all your favorites in between calculating standard deviations and building your loan amortization worksheet.