The Sudoku craze began a few years ago and since then the quaint Japanese number puzzle has become cool, whether on the train, chilling at home or simply in need of something to occupy your time, Sudoku offers a relaxing alternative to the crossword puzzle and a break from hardcore gaming. With its touch-screen input the DS is perhaps the perfect platform for Sudoku and by extension many Sudoku games have already been released for the platform such as the 2006 title “Sudoku Master”. “Sudoku 150! For Challengers” presents 145 puzzles over five levels and five “titled” puzzles for the player to solve and gain the title of “Sudoku Master.”
The game presentation is fairly simple and manages to get the job done in a suitably uncluttered and succinct environment. The game’s host and mascot is a pretty jolly fellow with a pink afro who guides the player through the game's various tutorials, which range from a basic explanation of the goal of Sudoku and how to play to some more in-depth features such as the “guidelines” option, which serves to make it easier for the player to spot multiples of the same number throughout each puzzle. The game has pretty simple “Sudoku squared” wallpaper for its background and the background music isn’t too grating. Furthermore there are four different background tracks to choose from, and if you don’t happen to like any of them, you can also turn the music off altogether. In this type of game particularly, background music can get more than a little annoying in a longer puzzle and this option is more than welcome, though you could always just turn the sound down.
The main menu presents the player with four options: Puzzle Mode, Title Mode, Tutorials and Options. Puzzle Mode offers the bulk of the game with 20 puzzles in the Easy category, a pretty solid 100 in the Normal category and a further 25 Hard level puzzles. One does not need to solve the Easy puzzles before moving on to the later levels, and experienced players may wish to skip the Easy mode altogether though it’s probably more fun to play each level sequentially. Title mode offers a further five puzzles and in order to unlock all five the preceding puzzle must be completed first. The lowest ranking and always-open level is Rookie while the hardest is Sudoku Master: the average player will probably find it quite difficult to reach the end and a fair amount of time can be spent on each puzzle. As mentioned earlier the in-game tutorials are pretty extensive and offer something for the complete beginner to the veteran player. Although the game appears to market itself as a puzzle for “challengers” this is most definitely pick up and play for just about anyone. Players of “Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training” games will perhaps fondly remember the slew of Sudoku puzzles available and the enjoyable gameplay offered by the Nintendo bestseller. Sudoku 150! For Challengers offers gameplay in much the same vein and although by default number entry is set to button input this can be changed to handwriting through the options menu. It is perhaps odd that handwriting input is not the default option as this works pretty flawlessly and makes the game more seamless and overall much more enjoyable.
Sudoku! 150 for Challengers is a solid puzzler for the DSi platform and is bound to keep the player amused for hours with its wealth of puzzles. It’s a no-frills game however, and the core Sudoku game has been left alone with no additions made, which for many people could quite possibly be a positive point. For 500 points the player is most definitely getting good value for money and this could have easily ended up on our shelves for mass retail. If you’re looking for a quick thrill or some flashy, shiny, action Sudoku 150! is probably not for you. However, if you are looking for a great value puzzler with a decent selection of puzzles and a friendly game environment, why not give Sudoku 150! For Challengers a try? Sudoku 150! may just be the must-have game for your DSi for long journeys and the daily commute.