Round-up of Sudoku on the DS

Posted by Trinkit on May 23rd, 2007

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Sudoku became a phenomenon, growing in popularity amazingly quick. Western programmers were quick to hop on the bandwagon and produced metric tons of really crap sudoku games, losing what makes the japanese puzzles so fun to solve. They took an approach where they just generated random grids and then blanked all the numbers out except for the clues to leave you with a random, chaotic puzzle that was more frustrating than fun. Early ones didn’t even guarantee one unique solution, instead you could question your reasoning and then if it was a published puzzle when you checked the solution in back you’d be bewildered as to why your answer was completely different, yet, still completely valid. Eventually, there were enough complaints about ‘proper’ puzzles that they began to at least give symmetrical masking of the numbers which is a characteristic of the original handcrafted japanese puzzles. Yet, still, these are completely randomly generated and are hard to follow and solve compared to handwritten puzzles. As of yet, there are no program to my knowledge that generate a sudoku puzzle that contains all the characteristics of a handwritten puzzle. It’s often quite easy to determine a randomized computer generated puzzle from a handwritten one. So, even knowing all of that, I was enticed by the chances of there being a quality sudoku game on the DS, I mean, they have to pay outrageous licensing fees just to release a game, so surely they would do it right? Well… Unfortunately, this kitten doesn’t know everything.

So, during my exploits, I’ve disovered the following list of Nintendo DS games containing sudoku puzzles.

Brain Age Box Cover Brain age has the singular honor of having the highest quality of sudoku puzzles for a DS release. The handwriting recognition is wonderful, allowing a full 9 digit notation; it’s spectacular. The bad news, only 56 puzzles per difficulty, and at least 8 of those are tutorials. I haven’t unlocked the hard puzzles, so don’t know what the exact number or type of puzzles there are in that mode, just guessing based on the number of easy and intermediate puzzles. Also of note, the japanese version of this game does not contain the sudoku puzzles.

Puzzle Series Vol. 3 - Sudoku Puzzle Series Vol. 3 - Sudoku, is a japanese released Sudoku puzzle game. Localised later as Sudoku Gridmaster for US release and Sudoku Master for European release. It has a number of good features for Sudoku software, most notably the highlighting of the current row and column you’re on. As well a system to notate possible choices for a particular square. Also, the game does not give away solutions when you fill in a wrong number. This is important because when the software does assist a user it really takes the effort out of solving sudoku puzzles. The game provides 70 easy puzzles, 140 medium puzzles, and 90 hard puzzles. The interface is simple enough that a little bit of trial and error will get you to the puzzles even if you don’t know any japanese at all. There’s also a fourth option on the difficulty screen that I presume hides some unlockables. I don’t know if these unlockables are extra puzzles or not. The good news is that it appears to me that these puzzles are hand-written and not computer generated. The bad news is that there’s only 300 puzzles. It’s enough to keep one occupied for a while, but, once you finish the puzzles, you basically paid 20$+ for 300 puzzles, which, isn’t a very good rate considering the number of puzzles provided in various magazines and books. You can get 500+ handwritten sudoku puzzles for around 7$ US. It’s not a game I’d buy unless I found it in a bargain bin for less then 10$.

Sudoku Mania Boxcover Sudoku Mania, unfortunately, is a game I can not with good conscience say anything positive about. It’s the first on the list so far to use automatic puzzle generation giving you a virtually infinite amount of puzzles, however, it does generate puzzles that have no logical clues to solve. It suffers all the errors of first generation automatic sudoku puzzle programs. The sounds are horrible and the ‘hip’ futurestic techno presentation doesn’t fit sudoku much at all. I couldn’t stand this game very long to see if it had any redeeming features. It commits every sin a sudoku game possibly can, including giving away solutions. It doesn’t even contain a system to allow you to write in numbers temporarily. Awful, awful sudoku game. This game is released in Europe as Sudokumaniacs; avoid that title as well. Overall, “I no want!” applies.

Sudoku Gridmaster Boxcover This is a re-release of Puzzle Series Vol. 3 localised for english speaking audiences. This version has an extra 100 puzzles, and an extra difficulty level called ‘Practice’. There are 10 practice, 80 easy, 190 medium, and 120 hard puzzles for you to solve in this one. As well, upon playing this, I was able to discover what the locked options in the japanese game were. It’s some kind of rank test that I assume opens up as you complete puzzles on the various difficulty levels. As I was just playing to evaluate, I haven’t completed enough puzzles to try any of the rank tests. Much of what I had to say for Puzzle Series Vol. 3 applies here. The amount of puzzles, although of high quality, simply isn’t worth the full price-tag, a definate bargain bin buy though. The european release is exactly the same as the US release with the only significant change being more languages.

Puzzle Series Vol. 9 - Sudoku 2 Deluxe Boxcover Puzzle Series Vol. 9 - Sudoku 2 Deluxe continues in the same vein as it’s predecessor, expanding the puzzle count to 400 like the american release of the first game. I wasn’t able to tell if these are completely new puzzles or just a recollection of what was originally in the japanese game and the added english ones. My memory simply isn’t that good. The notable new features I found right away was the ability to create your own sudoku puzzles from scratch and 3 different save slots so that multiple members of the family can play on the same cart without disrupting eachother’s play. There’s also a wireless DS option that I assume allows you to share your puzzles with your friends. It might be a buy for the Sudoku puzzle obsessed.

Nampure 10,000 Mon Box Cover Nampure 10,000 Mon is a japanese only DS sudoku game. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but, it does have 10,000 very well done puzzles. I -do- believe they’re all hand done and not randomly generated, but, there are some that break the ‘rules’ of japanese puzzles. It may just be that’s a priviledge the author of the puzzles took. The few I picked at random to solve did seem to have logical clues and I was easily able to follow long chains of thought which indicates that these aren’t random puzzles. This is a must-get title if you ask me.

Toon-doku Box Cover I couldn’t play this. The numbers aren’t there, just random pictures. It’s horribly cute, but, I could barely stand the using the pictures that I only played first two stages. I apologize for the crappy amount of information on this game. I just couldn’t get into it at all to even force myself to see what there was to the game. This is perhaps one of the more frustrating titles I’ve had the misfortune of forcing myself to evaluate. Please, offer pity to the kitten for this one.

Zendoku Box Cover Similar to Toon-doku in using pictures to replace numbers for its special mode. Its puzzles however are completely random and without logic. The theme is cute and if you can stand the puzzles, the storylines are amusing as well. I’m not completely as opposed to this game as I was with some of the others, but, it’s not really worth the money. It does feature a classic sudoku mode, but, my assumption is that it’s more of the same, just no cute storyline, no cute avatars, just crappy randomized puzzles. My opinion, let someone else buy it and borrow it.

Essential Sudoku DS Boxcover Essential Sudoku DS is the next on the list. The thing that surprised me was the inclusion of picture logic puzzles, one of my latest addictions. The game includes 2000 puzzles in all and the ability to create your own puzzles, both sudoku and picture logic. The bad news? The sudoku puzzles suck, and so does trying to solve them. Its key benefits are that it actually allows you to use the stylus to draw the numbers, and you can add in notations for possible numbers. It’s just the puzzles are so horribly constructed and so improper that it’s a chore to solve the sudoku puzzles. That being said, the picture logic puzzles included make this game worth having. It should be called Essential Picture Logic.

Platinum Sudoku Box Cover Platinum Sudoku is a fun title, but, again, it loses a little on it’s Sudoku side. The puzzles are again random jumbles and aren’t properly designed, but, they’re not randomly generated on the fly; you’re given a set number of puzzles. However, this number is very, very, large. It offers an unlockable option of ‘20 million grids’. What this option holds I don’t really know, but, I make the assumption they had a computer generate 20 million + of these random grids that don’t look very good and play fairly bad and stocked it into the ds game. This one is more fun for it’s kakuro puzzles, which are limited in number. My enjoyment of these may be due to ignorance of the norm for kakuro puzzles though. I do have troubles finding clues and following chains of thought in this as well which suggests that the kakuro puzzles are similarly randomly generated and not done by hand. This is a bargain bin buy for sudoku fans.

Sudokuro Box Cover Sudokuro is… by our friends that created the nightmare that is Sudoku Mania and Sudokumaniacs. It’s more of the same, awful, awful, awful. It has no notation, random puzzles that make no sense, and only one improvement; now instead of random clues they have pregenerated masks they apply and some of these masks result in a properly revealed cluing that is symmetrical in the style of japanese puzzles. Others are just wrong. “No want!”

3 Responses

  1. ganesh2 Says:

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    I am not so keen on sudoku games.
    Even if i like it.

    You forgot to talk about NUMPA VOW.
    I tried it , i did not understand everything , because there’s a obscure rule implying a picture … (i guess if i could read japanese, i would have understand it)

    About the essential sudoku DS , i bought it because i saw the back of the game package, and the picross puzzles…
    I guess they called it sudoku because of the growing popularity of the sudoku.

    I am pretty sure that if they re-relase it under the name of “essential picross ds” , it would be a hit. xD

  2. Trinkit Says:

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    You’re right. I didn’t discover nampure vow until recently. If I’m remembering the game properly, it’s another one that actually has properly designed puzzles. Which means it’s a joy to play even if you don’t understand the revealed pictures. It’s very strange how much a puzzle is affected by it’s design.

  3. Karin Says:

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    Hi,i just love solving sudoku puzzles.Another game which is similar to sudoku yet different is nonograms. These are picture logic puzzles in which you are gven numerical clues. Gemsweeper is a game that i have enjoyed playing.It has 225 puzzles to solve. Great graphics and easy to learn. ideal for kids as well.Check it out http://www.lobstersoft.com

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