Sudoku and DSiWare are seemingly inseparable at this point, so forgive our lack of shock when another incarnation of the numeric puzzle game peeks its head out from behind the bush of Nintendo's weekly downloads. What did surprise us, and pleasantly so, was just how nice of a package Telegraph Sudoku & Kakuro turned out to be.
Telegraph gets the fundamentals down pat by allowing you to save and resume a puzzle for each of the variants, so you can have up to five games going at a time. There's a pencil tool for scribbling in potential answers, a pen for deciding and an eraser for obvious reasons. If you're new to/bad at sudoku, there's a handy autocorrect feature that lets you know immediately with a big red X if the number you've written in pen is incorrect for that box — on the plus side there's no wasting precious time operating under false assumptions, but the downside is that your completion clock goes up by a minute, eventually lowering the amount of stars you're awarded and thus your overall ranking. The same minute penalty applies to using the hint system, which fills in a random box for you.
A total of 500 puzzles are included here that unlock as you go along, spread across four difficulties ranging from Gentle to Diabolical. Vanilla sudoku accounts for 180 puzzles, and another 80 each go to mini sudoku, which shrinks the field down to a 6x6 grid; jigsaw sudoku, with irregular box sizes spread over a 9x9 grid; sudoku X, which includes two grey diagonals that also must be filled 1 through 9; and newcomer kakuro.
Kakuro is even more of a numerical crossword than sudoku. Presented in the same layout, each "word" is a number that you must add up to in the given boxes using the same criteria as sudoku. For example, if you have three boxes to add up to 9, you can't spam the boxes with 3-3-3. Instead, you'll have to use a combination that doesn't include duplicates in the sequence, like 1-2-6 or 2-3-4. As in sudoku, you can't use numbers that happen to be included in any intersecting lines. The inclusion of kakuro is a nice additive for those who have grown weary of sudoku on DSi, and those new to both will appreciate the variety.
There are other nice touches too, like a tally of how many times a number has been used so far in each puzzle, how clicking one number will highlight all of the placed instances of that number to help avoid silly mistakes, or showing different possible combinations in kakuro. The game also tracks play statistics like total time, best time and completion progress across each of the five modes. Everything is wrapped in a very clean and pleasant theme that is easy on the eyes too. While not stupendous, it's probably as pretty as a sudoku game could ever look.
If video game services had the sentience to utter dying words then DSiWare's would undoubtedly be "sudoku," but along comes Telegraph Sudoku & Kakuro to breathe life into it and show the service how number-crunching puzzles are done. It doesn't just settle for flinging a large quantity of similar puzzles at you, although it does include 500 of them, which is more than we can say for a lot of other downloads. For a meagre 200 points, it's a no-brainer for number fans.