The game ships with a couple of different skins, in case you don't like the standard MCE appearance. One is kind of futuristic, and the other is designed to resemble a standard pen-and-paper puzzle.
The game allows you to 'pencil-in' possible answers by marking squares with numbers in the corners. That way, if you have a theory about which numbers might go where, you can get them in and see the possible effects on other rows and grids.
It's hard to review the game itself, since you either like the puzzle or you don't - if you hate playing Sudoku, you're not exactly going to like this version. If you love the puzzle, you'll find this a happy rendition of it. In future versions, however, we'd like to see the ability to play some of the increasingly popular variants of the game - such as Killer Sudoku or Sudoku X.
Hardened Sudoku addicts have also pointed out the difference between computer generated puzzles and hand-crafted ones. Not that a mathmatical dolt such as myself could tell the difference, but apparently computer generated puzzles are generally more easily crackable, with two or more right answers and with a feel of computer 'logic' about the initial number placement. Hardcore addicts have been flocking to the Guardian Unlimited
recently, which purports to have original hand-crafted puzzles by the original Japanese inventors, which are far more fiendish.
The game is, however, important as a demonstration of the kind of games I think are going to become more and more popular in the living room over the coming couple of years. Microsoft has shown, with the Xbox Live Arcade, that there is a lot of opportunity for puzzle and mini-games to take place on a large screen, to allow more casual gamers to get into using the PC, to get into gaming. Indeed, the Xbox 360 ships with a puzzle game on the hard drive. We all know how addictive Solitaire and Minesweeper can be, and I consider this to be a progression of that trend.
The game is undoubtedly 'newbie-friendly' - you don't need to be a computer whizz to play the game, and you don't need to have quick reflexes or anything like that. Consequently, it's incredibly accessible, and it will surely act as a useful bridge for those who would never touch a game on a computer to getting them interested in something perhaps slightly more complex. Whislt my girlfriend may have been sceptical about my new Media Center box, showing her that she could fill in the dead time between SuperNanny
with a game of this bought me some substantial breathing space, and has got her interested in learning about the PC and what she can do with it.
Frankly, the game is a great hook to get people using living room PCs, and it's also a great rendition of a popular puzzle game. At the bargain price of £9.95 from the KMS Software homepage
, what's not to like?