Buku Sudoku finally brings a sudoku game to Xbox Live Arcade. But was anybody really wanting one?
Sudoku is a number-based puzzle game in which the object is to fill boxes, rows, and columns with numbers. The typical game is a 9x9 grid, with each 9-square column and 9-square row needing to be filled with numbers 1 through 9 without duplicating any number. Further, the grid is broken into nine boxes with nine individual squares, and the numbers 1 through 9 must also be filled into these boxes without duplication. It is a simple logic-based puzzle game that can be challenging, fun, and addictive. Buku Sudoku helps feed the addiction, offering 1200 puzzles (and, when I purchased the game, offered a free add-on of 1200 more puzzles).
The presentation of Sudoku is at least adequate, offering a few different themes, from a Sunday morning paper at breakfast to a virtual Sudoku board on a computer monitor. The game continually plays inoffensive easy listening music and can be quickly changed with a press of the right bumper. The controls are easy and intuitive, with the left stick selecting the square and the right selecting the number to insert. It also allows the player to "pencil in" a number, helping to narrow the options. It makes the act of playing the game a little bit easier than playing on paper (at least for players like me who can't write small, and hate the messiness of scratching out notes once you've selected the final number). It also offers the opportunity to solve the puzzle through trial and error by inking in correct numbers once you've completing a block or column or row. Several help tools exist that will allow you to only enter available numbers or to show when an individual square is incorrect. These helpers take a lot of the challenge out of the game, but they're available if you need them.
The game has a lot to offer: casual and timed games, grids sized 6x6, 8x8, 9x9, and 12x12 (using letters A, B, and C in addition to the numbers), and three difficulty settings (the harder the setting, the fewer pre-filled squares). The game also offers multi-player locally and on Xbox Live (co-op and duel, though I never could find anybody online to play). Even though there is a lot of content, there is little variety, and you are likely to experience all the game has to offer in less than 15 minutes
At the end of the day, it is Sudoku, a game available for free online or in the daily newspaper and best enjoyed on an airplane or sitting at the DMV. Buku Sudoku has helped reduce the hate side of my love-hate relationship with the game, but it is a simple diversion at best.