Explore the numbers one through nine over and over and over again, as Sudoku returns once more to the DS.
Since the introduction of Nintendo's Touch Generations line and the inclusion of Sudoku puzzles within the non-game phenomenon Brain Age, puzzle games for the DS have gone beyond those of the familiar Tetris and Meteos variety, and classic newspaper tokens like Crosswords and the recently popular Sudoku have found a mostly welcome home beside their more visually appealing brethren. The lack of impressive visuals in a simple game like Sudoku is one aspect that may have previously hindered mass appeal, but the DS is the platform of choice for games trying something new, and Sudokuro falls happily into that category.
While Sudoku on handhelds may be a fairly new craze, that doesn't mean Sudokuro doesn't face some serious competition. The DS has already seen the release of Sudoku Gridmaster, Sudoku Mania and the collection of puzzles tacked on to Brain Age. Even Toondoku, a game that is hoping to remedy the simple visual aspect of Sudoku is rising to compete with Sudokuro on the exact same release date. Although, that's not to suggest Sudokuro isn't striving for a more attractive look than the standard grid, as the game is employing a very ancient Japanese aesthetic, with the obvious oriental dragons and Wong's China Buffet font as necessary, if cliched, inclusions.
Where Sudokuro is trying to really oust its competitors is in the amount of number-crunching content the game delivers. Not comfortable with offering just 1,500 unique hand-crafted Sudoku puzzles, there is also an unlimited amount of automatically generated puzzles, and over 5,000 of the slightly lesser-known Kakuro puzzles. Kakuro is the second most popular game to Sudoku in Japan, and offers a similar style of number focused gameplay. The merging of Sudoku and Kakuro is where Sudokuro gets its mash-up title.
Every variety of input is included within this game, short of shouting the numbers into the DS microphone, and, really, that's probably going a little too far anyways. Players can use classic button-input gameplay, or numerical recognition through the stylus, similar to Brain Age. Puzzles are located on the top screen of the DS, and the bottom screen has a selection of stylus-ready buttons for navigation, and a drawing board for writing numbers.
No media released thus far has shown clearly whether or not the game supports quarter-cell temporary number placement, which is a must have for many serious Sudoku fans. Considering that all of the games included within Sudokuro fit into three separate levels of difficulty, lacking this feature in the toughest of puzzles might be almost unforgivable. However, where the hardest difficulty might be daunting for all but Pythagoras himself, the rest of us dullards can enjoy a gentle 2x2 grid design created especially for children. The simple grids are what Crave Entertainment is hoping will make Sudokuro enjoyable for the entire family, or if nothing else, enjoyable for the sorry bastards who aren't quite ready to work with that whole 1-9 number scheme.
Where games like Sudoku Gridmaster seemed to pale in comparison to the add-on Sudoku in Brain Age, Sudokuro is at least launching with some hindsight, and hopefully will be presenting a fully featured puzzler's heaven of mathematical content. If not, then Brain Age is always hanging back somewhere in the catalog of a serious portion of DS owners, and Toondoku is still looming right beside Sudokuro on the horizon. The competition is stiff, but if nothing else, this one's got a budget pricetag of $19.99, and of course, the freaking dragons.