It's sudoku, but it's nothing special...
Apparently Apple didn't get the memo that typically it's best to release new games during the holiday seasons and let the droughts happen during the summer months. Which is why it boggles my mind that months after the introduction of the gaming service for our iPods were now only seeing the release of a measly two games, from juggernaut publisher EA no less. Sudoku and Royal Solitare were released alongside one another, and clearly share a similar theme. The menus, the presentation, the controls, the options - all of it is basically the same in both titles, and clearly shows that these games were made by the same developer, which isn't a bad thing as they are both well designed games. But it's the gameplay that sets these two games a part.
With the mainstream appeal of a game such as Sudoku, and its massive popularity that its managed to grasp over the years, its really no surprise to see an adaptation hit the iPod early on. If you've never played it before, it's a puzzle game that takes a good deal of concentration and time. The goal is to have every vertical and horizontal row and each 3x3 grid contain only one number from 1-9. It's a game you have to play multiple times to get hooked, and once it does you'll get lost in these things. And considering most of us have out iPod's on us all the time, it's a nice bonus to play some Sudoku to kill some time.
The game features two modes of play - normal and newspaper. Normal is just generic Sudoku, with predetermined puzzles in five difficulties, from easy and to the hardest being INSANE, which clearly shows the team behind this took a cue from their work on the SSX series. But the puzzles certainly fit their description because the later difficulties can be incredibly frustrating.
The other mode is newspaper, which when I went into I had no idea what I was doing, as it contains just a blank grid with the ability to add numbers. After checking up the instruction manual on my iTunes, I finally understood its purpose; the point is you can input puzzles from other sources, such as the daily newspaper and take those puzzles with you on the go. But I have to ask myself, why not save yourself the trouble and just rip the puzzle out and shove it in your pocket? Newspaper mode is a nice gesture to the overall package, but not logical by any means.
For $5 Sudoku offers a basic, yet nice, package that anyone would come to expect. The problem is there's not a whole lot you can do to mix up the gameplay formula, at the end of the day its just Sudoku, with some iffy controls, and minimal features there's a lot better alternatives then this. Brain Age comes to mind, which is only $15 more and offers a ton of puzzles, better control, and (obviously) even more then just Sudoku. Or better yet just go the traditional pen and paper route and buy a book for the same price. However if you're an iPod junkie who simply can't take a 10 minute bus ride without one, Sudoku might be a nice addition to your harddrive, as it's a great time killer.
What's Hot: Lots of puzzles at a variety of difficulties.
What's Not: Both control schemes are a bit awkward, and it's just another way of getting your Sudoku fix.