Platforms: Nintendo DS
Developer: Hudson Soft Co., Ltd.
Rating: E (Everyone)
Sudoku. It is a name that makes you squirm, brings joy to your heart, or makes you ponder what the heck it is. If you fall into the middle category, read on as this may be one to look out for. If not you’ll probably want to skip my ramble, or else you already have.
This is THE sudoku game for the Nintendo DS. With more than 400 puzzles, each hand-picked by the creators themselves at Nikoli (a Japanese publisher that specialises in logic puzzles) this is a Sudoku fan’s wet dream. Unfortunately, that isn’t saying very much.
The usual options are present here: a tutorial, the standard puzzles and a ranking mode. Beginners can get to grips with how this game of logic works in no time at all, but the tutorial is unfortunately not very interactive and interesting as it could have been. If you don’t feel optimistic about learning the ins and outs of Sudoku, you may very well fall asleep while reading the very bland instructions.
Past that we have the puzzles themselves, of which there are more than enough to last you a very long time (much more than the amount found in the bonus Sudoku mode in Brain Age). There are 4 difficulty grades to choose from: practice - which informs you whenever you input an incorrect number, and easy, medium and hard which are self-explanatory. You don’t have access to all the puzzles initially, but you already have a fair few to select from the outset. That way if you find yourself stuck on a seemingly impossible puzzle (which will occur frequently if you are someone like myself!), you can just skip it and tackle some other more doable ones in the meantime. The last mode you have is a ranking mode, which is essentially your standard Sudoku with a time limit imposed.
As you complete Sudoku puzzles, you will receive up to 4 stars based on your time taken for completion. These stars are used to unlock more puzzles, but it’s a shame that there isn’t much more in the way of bonuses other than that. This is a super no-frills Sudoku package, and what you see is what you get.
In a game where accuracy and speed are paramount, a poor interface would deface everything entirely. This is not the case here, but compared to Brain Age, Gridmaster’s touchscreen use isn’t as intuitive. Handwriting recognition isn’t as quick and precise as it was in the aforementioned game. It still works mind you, but it isn’t the most efficient method of solving a Sudoku puzzle. If your handwriting seems foreign much too often, you also have the option to type in your numbers from a numerical keypad. In my opinion, this works far better than writing it out manually. However it is also a bit too easy to make a slight slip, tap the wrong number, and find yourself completely stuck 15 minutes later. You can also jot down rough numbers into the corners of each square, but the amount of tapping required makes harder puzzles very cumbersome because of this; you’re better off relying on your good old pen & paper for this job me thinks.
Sudoku Gridmaster is a budget title and if you are not looking for anything more than what this sets out to be (that is pure, unadulterated Sudoku), then this is a great addition to your library. Otherwise stick to the real books for now.