Hamster continues to roll out piecemeal the components of its forthcoming retail package Sudoku + 7 Other Complex Puzzles by Nikoli onto the eShop, now breaking out the brain-bender Slitherlink by Nikoli. Unlike past efforts Sudoku by Nikoli and Kakuro by Nikoli, Slitherlink offers a type of teaser seldom seen in digital form and that novelty factor alone might propel puzzle mavens to give it a serious look. However, its barebones package might make the 50 puzzles more difficult for novices to wrap their head around than it should.
Slitherlink's name says it all: the objective is to create a single unbroken, uncrossed link that slithers and wriggles all around the numerical playing grid. Each digit tells how many sides of its corresponding box are a part of the link, with blank boxes to use however needed. Like all good puzzles, its simple premise is diabolical in practice as weaving one large link between swaths of numbers is never as easy as 1, 2, 3.
This package is feature-consistent with the other Nikoli titles, which means 50 puzzles of varying difficulty that unlock as others are conquered, a local multiplayer race-like mode and a helpful tutorial to get acquainted to Slitherlink's quirks and nuances.
All in all, though, the package is fairly sparse for a digital offering, and a lack of hint system to unstick progress from inevitable mud is sorely felt — especially if you are new to the world of number puzzles. What Hamster has packaged is essentially a collection of puzzles that would function just the same on paper, which feels like a huge missed opportunity to do something special with what are genuinely interesting puzzles.
Perhaps Nikoli is too pleased with its hand-crafted puzzles to mechanise them with video game conventions, but lacking the will to really embrace its new medium ultimately will keep these puzzle packages from hitting their potential. Slitherlink by Nikoli suffers from the same indifference as previous — and likely future — releases, making it a tough sell for someone looking for more than just paper puzzles.