Excel — your friendly (and perhaps most dreaded) office tool. But it’s not just for spreadsheets anymore.
Believe it or not, you can turn the data-analyzing, number-cruncher into one unbelievably cool game. The Microsoft software has a few secrets up its sleeve; many people have managed to design new games or recreate classics like Monopoly from its offerings.
Below, we’ve highlighted six games made entirely in Microsoft Excel.
Note: For most of these games, you’ll need to enable macros. To do so, open up the game and click “Enable Macros.”
You may have heard of the addicting game 2048 by Gabriele Cirulli. This is the same exact game, just in Excel format.
In 2048 two tiles of the same number can merge into a new tile that equals the total value of the two. The goal of the game is to have a tile value of 2,048.
The geniuses at Spreadsheet1.com built an Excel version that allows you to play the game, and track your moves to help analyze your strategy. Since the game is made entirely in Excel, you can resume the game at a later time by saving the workbook, and it can be played online or offline. It is available for Excel 2007 or later, and can be downloaded for free here.
But what if you want to play this game and be discrete at work? Reddit user Krzychu81 created a version of 2048 with “highly advanced cloaking mechanisms to camouflage itself as financial statements.”
To download this sneaky version, click here.
2. Candy Number Crunch Saga
The description states that the game “takes place in the not too distant future where King.com (KING) has had a successful IPO. The burden is on you, brave stock trader, to invest wisely and become richer beyond your wildest dreams!”
This creative game has more than 35 news events that can realistically affect stock price and includes a real-time stock ticker.
After 12 to 14 hours of work, he created a Monopoly simulator in Excel using a programming language called Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). The game allows up to four players, and was updated in August 2011 with the option to choose “human” or “computer” players.
To download it for free, click here.
4. 3D Maze
Built into an Excel grid, 3D Maze was developed by Jordan Goldmeier from Option Explicit VBA. Goldmeier, a guest author on Walkin’s blog, shared a step-by-step tutorial on how to create 3D mazes and posted this game.
Using the arrow buttons in the spreadsheet, you can easily move around the maze. Below the arrows, a map can also help you navigate the maze.
3D Maze is available on PC Excel versions 2007, 2010 and 2013. To download it for free, click here.
In addition to Candy Number Crunch Saga, Walkin designed a full-length role-playing game called Arena.Xlsm. The game took five months to make, and was released last March. It features more than 2,000 possible enemies, 1,000 possible item combinations, a storyline with four different endings and 31 spells.
Arena.Xlsm is available on PC versions of Excel 2007, 2010 and 2013. To download it for free, click here.
6. Writer’s Block
Kevin Lyman, a former Microsoft intern, built an original multiplayer word game that he describes as “Scrabble meets Battleship.” Writer’s Block, the name of the game, was built entirely in Excel using a combination of conditional formatting, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and images, Lyman tells Mashable.
Lyman is currently porting Writer’s Block from Excel to mobile platforms, and plans to release it to Android, iOS and Windows Phone this coming November. The Excel version of Writer’s Block is not available to the public, but will be once the mobile versions are out.