If the idea of number puzzles actually makes you feel a bit queasy if you get headaches simply from looking at the Sudoku pages in the newspaper if you don’t even know what the heck Kakuro is, well I’m here to say, don’t be scared by this mini! This is actually a fun mini to play even if number puzzles are not your thing. I never thought I’d ever enjoyed playing Sudoku or Kakuro (once I learned what it was!), but this mini totally converted me, no mean feat!
Sanuk Games has had a couple of minis out so far, Spot the Differences, which was very “niche”, and Telegraph Crosswords, which comes from the same family as this Sudoku game of course, and is another great game for puzzle fans. Clearly, these sorts of puzzle games are what Sanuk excels at, especially in conjunction with the UK’s Telegraph newspaper which is renowned for its crosswords and number puzzles.
What I really like about this mini is that it does the basics so well. If you don’t know how to play either game, the “Instructions” section via the Pause Menu outlines the rules very clearly, explaining that the aim of Sudoku is to fill the grid so that every row and column and every 3×3 box contains all numbers from 1 to 9, and that the aim of Kakuro is to enter a number between 1 and 9 in the empty squares without repeating a number.
As well as the regular Sudoku and Kakuro puzzles, the game also includes three Sudoku variants – Sudoku X, Mini Sudoku and Jigsaw Sudoku. In Sudoku X, you must fill in the “X” shape with numbers from 1 to 9 along with the other requirements; in Mini Sudoku the boxes are only 2×3 and you only have to enter numbers 1 to 6; and in Jigsaw Sudoku the boxes are all different shapes rather than just the usual squares.
When it comes to actually playing the game, if you’re a novice it’s a good idea to have Auto-Correction enabled so that you can see immediately where you’re going wrong, but once you’re confident you’ll enjoy the added challenge of working it all out for yourself.
There are four difficulty levels, Easy, Medium, Hard and Expert, so plenty of scope to gradually train your brain with the well-balanced learning curve.
The controls are the same for both games: use the analog stick to browse your way around the grid, press X to make the numerical pad pop up and write a number in the chosen cell, press O to erase a number from a selected cell, and press Square to select the pencil and add notes in the corner of a cell. It all works pretty effortlessly really, so you can concentrate on working out the solutions to the puzzles rather than fumbling around trying to find the right button to press.
Obviously, when reviewing games such as this, you’re not looking for amazing graphics or visual excitement, you’re looking to see how well the game does its job of making the puzzles challenging and mind-bending at the same time as making the gameplay mechanics as effortless as possible. As it turns out, the way Telegraph Sudoku & Kakuro is presented, it’s even better than picking up a pencil and tackling a puzzle on paper.
For one thing, you don’t have all the rubbing out or crossing out to do when you get things wrong, especially if you enable Auto Correction, as it will automatically stop you before you enter the wrong number. Also, you don’t miss that feeling of writing something down because the game even provides the sound effects of scribbling for you! And, of course, it’s totally portable: if I was going on a long journey, I’d much rather have this on my PSP along with all my other games than a big bulky bumper book of Sudoku puzzles.
The reason for giving this game such a high score is because taking it for what it is, it is probably the best in its class, and with 500 puzzles to complete it’s also fantastic value for money. Proof that playing with numbers can be fun. Who knew?!