Better Than Orange Juice

May 24th, 2010  |  Published in games

Sudoku HD

I’m not really a logic puzzle sort of person, so it’s strange to me that I enjoy Sudoku at all, but I do. Playing feels like trying to untangle a big pile of cables. At first, none of it makes any sense at all, but eventually a free end can be teased out and there’s nothing but the problem at hand. After a while, a certain Sudoku-adapted pattern of thought asserts itself and even though I can’t stop and explain why some of the solutions are obvious, they just are.

I discovered Sudoku in December, 2005 and after a brief stalk got in the habit of starting my day with a quick puzzle or two. I got out of the habit when I got a Nintendo DS and developed a paranoid and absorbing relationship with online Mario Kart players. A few years back I picked up a few Sudoku games for the iPhone, but the habit never really reasserted itself. None of the games I found were quite right. The interfaces felt clunky.

Last week, though, I noticed Sudoku HD for the iPad, and it cost $1.99, which seemed to be well in the territory of something to try. The developer didn’t overthink the notation system (you just pick a square and pick a number. If you pick more than one number for a given square, all the numbers for it become notations until you clear the square).

There are four difficulty levels. For purposes of helping me feel like my brain has warmed up in the morning, or for something to do when I’m finished with one task and want a quick diversion before starting another, I’m happy to work on the “normal” level of its four levels of difficulty. “Normal” seems to involve being handed one row or square, which is enough to get things moving. “Easy” is a bit too easy: You can knock out a couple of rows and a couple of squares in very few moves. I’ve tried one “hard” puzzle but no “insane” puzzles. The hard puzzle required a few three-way comparisons, which you don’t come across so much in the “normal” or “easy” levels. I don’t know what “insane” might involve. More time, I guess. All Sudoku seem to be a matter of time.

The game just looks nice, too. It really works on the iPad’s larger display.

There’s not a lot in the way of special features: It has an autofill button you can press up to four times to get help with a square you’re stuck on. After the fourth time, your finishing time won’t count and won’t be recorded. There’s also a way to enter your own puzzle, and the program checks to see if there’s more than one solution before allowing you to play (though you can tell it to let you play anyhow after being warned). There are also a few features that help you keep from making simple mistakes, though these can be turned on and off. I prefer to keep them on, and to make up for my lack of purity in that area I’ll refrain from tweeting my record-breaking times. Only fair.

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