fourtex zen


Fourtex Zen is a match-4 game with unique game mechanics. Play tactically in the moment or look ahead and play strategically.


  • Achievements
  • Leaderboard
  • Full controller and keyboard support on all platforms
  • Windowed or Fullscreen on desktop in portrait or landscape modes
  • Toggle scoring

You can purchase Fourtex Zen for PC, Mac, and Linux via

Fourtex Zen is Salty Dog Digital’s first game release. This updated version offers levels probably guaranteed to play out when implementing a correct strategy, and therefore the possibility of a high score, but you will only achieve a high score with mindful play. Successful play is rewarded along the way with rockin' classic poetry from Imperial-era Japanese poets, because the people who made this game wouldn't want to insult you by giving you something you already have. Once a poem is unlocked you keep it, even if you run out of moves. Visit your poetry garden anytime to contemplate the insights and wisdom of people who wrote poems. Since some people are afraid of poems, even short ones like these, they won't be mentioned again, in this paragraph.

The original soundtrack changes gradually as you play so it never gets tedious. The subtle sound effects are, according to secret research, more subtle than Klingon opera, trains, sirens, barking dogs, psychological experiments, crowded elevators, rabbits, very loud birds, nuclear accidents, etc.

Earn achievements, challenge your friends on the leaderboard, or turn off scoring to transcend mundane competition, at least until you are doing well and have a score you are not embarrassed for people to see. Retreat to the poetry garden and meditate on classical Japanese poetry and your meaningless score. Remember, they are very short poems and you don't have to read them if you don't want to. The poems are happy in their poetry garden, and they will be there when you change your mind. No distractions. Just be in the moment. Or choose not to be in the moment, if you think you can manage that.

New levels reveal charming stones. Get in the garden and away from the grind. In Fourtex Zen, you never lose. If there are no more moves, the path of stones seamlessly changes, but you retain your stones and, best of all, your poetry. You lose all the points you scored, of course. But then you can get those points right back, probably. It's not like the points have any real meaning. That's why this updated version has a leaderboard. You also keep your experiences and, fortified with renewed determination and vigor, commence again with the beginner’s mind. No frustration. No slogans.

Fourtex Zen. The game equivalent of comfort food. The game description you've apparently decided to read all the way through.

Have just a few minutes and want to chill out while waiting to pick up your kids or sharpen mower blades? Do you dream of escaping the noise and confusion of an airport while you wait to board a flight, after you fell asleep and missed the flight, so now you have nothing to do while you wait until the next flight? Want a game that is addictive and legal but not intense or too much like soup? Try Fourtex Zen. It’s a deceptively simple but captivating tile-matching game with original beautiful artwork. Play like a child (or adult, or whatever) for a few minutes or a few hours. Compete, or don’t compete. Read the poems, or save them for later. Note that even second-hand knowledge of poetry can sometimes help you to hook up, or appear more intelligent and attractive, and less gullible.

So what makes fourtex zen unique?

Imagine your zen garden

  • Spring sun plays on your shoulder warming you in the chill air. You sit surrounded by maple and cherry trees and move the stones. Water drops in the pond beside you. You hear the abbot resonate the gong. Calm pervades.

Peace in your pocket

  • Captivating, hand-crafted original graphics. Stones that are like the real world but just a bit brighter. No flashing animation or evil characters. Just smoothing and soothing stones, cool to the touch.

Surround yourself with simple

  • Sound embraces you lovingly. Sound separates you from the world. An original sound-track that changes continuously. Don’t be afraid that you’ll tire of the music because we’ve built-in natural variations of the nature effects. Just as a garden changes each day with the seasons.

Walk the path of stones

  • There are no losers. Every game is different and you choose your own path through the stones. Sometimes the path might peter out into woodland. When that happens, the path of stones changes seamlessly and you can keep playing. Your score is reset but you can keep the stones you’ve collected and keep playing. The path of stones changes but you can keep walking.

Play like a child again

  • fourtex zen is about the journey, not the destination. You can play with or without scoring enabled. Some match combinations score higher than others so if that’s important to you today, you can see your score. But you can also just turn it off and enjoy the journey.
  • Play in the moment or plan ahead. Most matching games allow you to swap any tiles you can see. Fourtex zen has the matching area and the waiting areas so you can line up cascade matches if you want.

Don’t compete. Contemplate

  • Meditate on classical japanese waka poetry. Each new level reveals new poetry from “Single songs of a hundred poets” translated into English by Clay MacCauley. At the end of the level, reveal new contemplations.
  • It’s not a competition. There is no leaderboard and no record of high score in fourtex zen. Each game is a fresh walk along the path.

Don’t react. Retreat

  • Play at your own pace. No time limit. No race. No stop watch. Play with your own rhythm.
  • Retreat from commercialism. No advertising at a low price. fourtex zen is a game without distractions. We want you to enjoy the gift of peace away from the world.
  • No in-app purchases. You get the whole game for one low price and you can play for ever. But if you like the game you may later want some of the variations we’re planning.


We’ve put together a selection of frequently asked questions. Hopefully they will provide the answers you need. If not feel free to contact us.

Frequently asked questions

How does the scoring work?

We encourage you to try playing fourtex zen without scoring turned on and experience what it is like to play with no objective other than the enjoyment of play. However, if you turn on scoring, which you can do at any point, here is how it works. Score is calculated as 100 times the number of matches squared. Then there is a bonus of 200 for a pair of rows or columns and a bonus of 400 for a cross. What does that mean?

A single line scores 100 points, whether a vertical line or a horizontal line. Two lines score 600 (400 + 200). If you make a cross match, you score 800 (400 + 400). On cascades, more complicated combinations can happen. So that means that if the cascade causes 2 rows and a column, for three total matches, the score is 900 plus 200 for the two rows plus 400 for each of the crosses. The total is 1900. There are no bonus points for completing a level. Scoring doesn’t change as a function of level because the game is about the experience rather than about progress.

Where does the poetry come from?

The poems are part of ‘Single songs of a hundred poets’ written in Japanese and translated into English by Clay MacCauley, published in Yokohama, Shanghai by Kelly and Walsh in 1917. The collection was assembled in the thirteenth century by Fujiwara no Sadaie Teikakyo with the poetry originally written over time from the seventh to the thirteenth centuries.

How can I find out more about Clay MacCauley?

Dickinson College has a biography of MacCauley here:

How come there are sixty-four poems but they are numbered up to one hundred?

We selected a subset of the poetry to make the quantity more manageable and retained the original reference numbers for anyone who becomes really interested in the poetry.

Are the poems haiku?

No, they are a different form of Japanese poetry called waka. Waka poetry today generally refers to a specific form, tanka, that follows a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable pattern.

Did MacCauley write the commentaries too?

Lorin, our resident storyteller wrote the commentaries.

Why doesn’t it have a high score table?

With fourtex zen, we’re providing you a space to be calm, slow down and be mindful. While the game allows you to keep score, that is optional. The game isn’t about achieving, it’s about being, just as when you sit in a garden and simply look at the flowers and plants, hear the bees and enjoy the fresh smell of Springtime. Fourtex zen is designed to be sufficiently engrossing to hold your attention. But we didn’t want fourtex zen to place you under pressure to achieve a high score. Each time, you’re playing a fresh. You can play in a mindful manner.Mindfulness is an intentional, systematic activity that is not about trying to improve yourself or get anywhere, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the biomedical scientist who introduced meditation to mainstream western medicine. He calls upon us to “rest in stillness – to stop doing and focus on just being”. (Source: