If you haven't heard of Sudoku
yet, your introduction to this strange little number-puzzle game is probably right around the corner. Sudoku is the newest funny-pages phenomenon in newspapers across the country, elbowing aside old favorites like Jumble and the crossword; this means, of course, that the inevitable wave of mobile games is on its way, too. One of the first on the market will be Gosub60's Sudoku Deluxe, a slick-looking game that has features for both Sudoku experts and neophytes.
Sudoku is a classic case of an "easy to understand, but next to impossible to master" gameplay dynamic. A puzzle consists of nine squares arrayed in a three-by-three grid, which are further divided into nine smaller boxes along the same lines. In order to solve a puzzle, you have to fill it up with the integers from 1 to 9 in such a way that no number is repeated within one of the large squares, or along any row or column. Here's the catch: A number of the boxes in each puzzle have been filled in for you from the beginning, so you have to figure out how to work around them.
This is actually really challenging from the get-go. Nevertheless, if you wish, Sudoku Deluxe will let you make it even harder, because its 1,000 included puzzles are divided into four difficulty levels--culminating with the extraintimidating "emperor" mode. Fear not, noobs: The game also features a tutorial mode that'll take you through some basic strategies that are commonly used to attack the puzzles.
In addition, Sudoku Deluxe provides a lot of handy hardware to make all things Sudoku easier. For one thing, an optional "scratch paper" window at the bottom of the screen can tell you which numbers are available to enter into any given space; if you like, the game will also display this information inside the spaces, in a light "pencil mark" style. Another really nifty feature is Sudoku Deluxe's puzzle-solving ability. You can enter any puzzle's starting state, and the game will quickly spit out a solution, according to a specially designed algorithm. It can take 'em, as well as dish 'em out.
Finally, you'll be able to text message a friend any of the game's puzzles, using a simple in-game menu. Each puzzle will be assigned a five-digit code for easy reference. Of course, this assumes that your friend also has a copy of the game. If not, he or she will be invited to purchase one.
Sudoku Deluxe certainly has the makings of a compelling puzzle game, especially since many people are already hooked on the activity. Plus, Gosub60 cut its teeth on solitaire games and the like, so they've got all the interface chops down. Look for this one to hit decks before the end of the year.