Sudoku With A Twist
Being new to Sudoku, when presented with the game’s opening menu of “Zendoku” or “Classic Sudoku”, I chose the latter. The premise of Sudoku is simple, but make no mistake, the difficulty level can get very high. The options in Classic Sudoku are few; you basically have a plain board with numbers that you play the game with. There is a time trial mode as well as a traditional unlimited mode, but before trying either of those there is a very brief tutorial that you can check out to learn the rules of the game and how to play.
The heart of the game lies in the Zendoku. Here there are eight playable characters, each with their own unique look at quest. I chose Kingkage, because he is a ninja and looks the coolest. His quest is that he wants to become a legendary fighter. After character selection you can go right into the Quest mode of the game whereby you go through a small story sequence and fight other characters in the game to advance. Basically it’s very much like Puzzle Fighter, but you don’t see how the computer player is progressing.
You do however interfere with their game, and they do to yours, whenever you make progress towards completing the puzzle. What happens is one of three types of obstructions will appear on screen that you must first do away with before you can continue your game. These take the form of flat boxes that you must tap with the Stylus to break, or snowflakes that you wipe off the screen using the Stylus, and lit candles that you blow out by blowing into the microphone of the DS, for example. This makes the game a fast paced one, as you are constantly trying to hurry and out do your opponent.
Besides the Quest mode there is a Zen mode where you are tasked with solving a puzzle of Easy, Normal, Hard, Expert, or Master difficulties in a preset amount of time. As time ticks off, so does your Bonus reward. The Attack Box is another mode of play; here you go through a series of challenge sequences where you must clear the same types of obstructions seen in the Quest mode. Doing this in a predetermined amount of time earns you various rewards. Lastly there is a multiplayer mode for wireless play.
The biggest problem I had with all of these types of modes, except for the classic Sudoku was that the pieces used in the game are not numbers. Instea d, you get all sorts of silly symbols like swords, hearts, and dragons to use instead of numbers. Why the developers felt the need to do away with numbers I’m not sure, but it would have at least been nice to be able to have the option to use numbers instead of all of these symbols. It just adds an extra hurdle for those not familiar with Sudoku, and even those who are will be affected. Other than that from what I can tell, not having played Sudoku before, the puzzles seem fine and the challenge seems fair, but it’s still not very fun.
Visually Zendoku does a good job of adding a lot of color and some visual flair to the experience. Granted, there is a very sparing amount of animation, but what there is looks ok. Nothing outstanding about the audio either, but it too is sufficient.