Having first found its place in the UK in The Times
newspaper back in 2004, Sudoku has embedded itself in the nation's conscience. Apologies to the Americans reading, but it appears that Sudoku is a thoroughly British phenomenon at present, as the game's Wikipedia page
well points out (although our very own G-gnome informs us that it's big in Oz too). The game is also known as 'Number Place' in the US.
The concept is pretty simple. There is a 3x3 grid, and each square on the grid is itself made up of a 3x3 grid. Within each of the sub-grids there is room to enter the numbers 1-9. However, each 9-square column and row across the larger grid also is supposed to have the numbers 1-9, without repeating. You are given a few entries to start, and it's your job to put all the numbers in the right place so that every column, row and sub-grid is appropriately completed.
Confused? It's simpler than it seems.
Hardened puzzlers have been completing Sudoku on trains and in lunch breaks for the past year, via the puzzles published alongside the crosswords in the papers such as The Sun
and The Independent
. However, now you can solve Sudoku on your 3-foot HD display.
After dropping back to the standard Windows desktop for installation, the game can be accessed from the 'More Programs' section of the MCE main menu. The game also creates a shortcut on your desktop, but if you spend most of your time in the MCE UI, you probably won't be using this.
This is the main screen. It's fairly simple - there's options down the left hand side, and the puzzle fills the majority of the screen. You can navigate around using the standard controller, and you can enter the numbers simply by pressing the appropriate button on the remote.
On the left, you have the option of choosing between different difficulty levels. Depending on the difficulty, you get given more or less fiendish versions of the puzzle, with less numbers given to start, more obscure combinations, and the like.
The game only works in Media Center, so you won't be playing this if you only have standard Windows XP. However, there are plenty of other puzzlers out there for normal PCs - the whole point of this one is the chunky interface and the living-room-fancyness.