Sudoku Vol. 1 for iPhone Review

Perhaps the best Sudoku app for beginners (and lazy puzzle-solvers), Hudson Entertainment’s Sudoku Vol. 1 offers a tutorial mode that explains Sudoku and walks you through the solving of a puzzle.

It also provides a number of visual tools for helping you solve puzzles. For example, one of my favourite “helper” features is called Borders: when you tap on a cell, a gold outline (shown to the right) surrounds the selected cell’s host region and the row and column containing the cell, making it easier to determine which numbers that cell can and cannot contain. (You can turn off this feature if you don't want it.) In addition, if you double-tap any given cell or solved cell, all other given and solved incidences of that cell’s number are highlighted; this is useful for quickly seeing, for example, which regions still need the number 2. A Hint button, which can be used three times for each puzzle, fills in a random unsolved cell. Finally, when all nine occurrences of a number have been entered, that number is grayed out on the onscreen keypad.

You use this 9-digit keypad to enter notations and cell values. To make notations in a cell, you tap the cell, then tap the notation button, and then tap (on the keypad) the possible values for the cell. To solve a cell, you tap the cell, then tap the solve button, then tap the desired number. (The keypad changes colour to indicate whether you’re in notation or solve mode.) There’s also a dedicated erase button, as well as Undo and Redo buttons—the latter two unique to Sudoku Vol. 1. Overall, Sudoku Vol. 1’s controls are excellent, and although the overall appearance of the game isn’t as attractive as that of the other two games here, it’s clear and effective. My only beef is that no matter which font you choose, the numbers used for notations can be difficult to read.

Sudoku Vol. 1 also provides a number of useful customization options. You can choose from six different fonts for numbers (including Japanese Kanji characters) and from six different backgrounds, and the music and sound effects can be separately muted. Other features include a game timer and an online ranking system. But my favorite feature is that the game auto-rotates between portrait and landscape mode, automatically shifting the controls from the bottom (in the former) to the side (in the latter). Unfortunately, the game’s menus for accessing settings are viewable only in portrait mode.

OUR VERDICT

My only major complaint about Sudoku Vol. 1, and one that keeps it from getting a higher rating, is that the game offers only 50 levels, compared to 10,000 for the other two versions covered here. And while the games vary in difficulty, you can’t choose higher levels immediately; you need to solve easier levels to unlock more-difficult ones.

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