Heyawake by Nikoli Review - Screenshot 1 of 2

Heyawake has been around since 1992 and has spawned several books of puzzles for brain teaser fans to tackle. Now the puzzles are appearing on the 3DS eShop in the form of Heyawake by Nikoli. You can take on 50 puzzles of increasing difficulty on your 3DS and compete with up to three other players in a race to see who can finish the current puzzle the fastest.

It would be nearly impossible to explain the many gameplay aspects and rules that go into the puzzle-solving experience of Heyawake. It basically places numbers at varying points around the puzzle grid to give you hints on how many painted cells will end up being in the connected room; there are also rules that dictate how the two types of cells, painted and unpainted, are to be handled, not to mention specifics for the rooms created by painting cells. If it sounds fairly complicated, that's because it is, and if you're not familiar with the game you'll definitely want to spend some quality time in the tutorial that's provided.

Heyawake by Nikoli Review - Screenshot 2 of 2

You'll be using the stylus to manipulate the game board and tapping on cells to paint and unpaint them. There are a host of menus running along the bottom of the screen that will be helpful to your progress and you can always glance up at the top screen to see your current time and various difficulty targets. You can quit on a particular puzzle if you find yourself stuck, but the game will keep track of how many times you quit on the puzzles in the player information.

There are basically three modes to choose from. Stage Clear Mode is the meat of the package and allows you to play through all 50 of the game's puzzles. As you unlock puzzles in this mode, they will become available in the Random Puzzle Mode and will be tossed your way in a completely randomized manner. If you're feeling a little competitive, there's also a 3DS Local Play battle mode that up to four players can compete in in a race to see who can solve the puzzle the fastest.

Since Heyawake is a fairly simple line grid puzzler, there's not much eye candy and certainly very little in the way of 3D depth. There is some rather light melodic music throughout the game, somewhat reminiscent of what you might hear in an old-school role-playing title. It's a small touch, but does a nice job of keeping things interesting during longer playing sessions.


Ultimately, the complicated rules and steep learning curve for newcomers is Heyawake's biggest obstacle. It's certainly a fun and challenging logic puzzle, but it's not the kind of game that you can just dive right into without some serious practice. The intuitive interface makes navigating the game a breeze and puzzler fans willing to invest some time into the experience will likely find a solid brain teaser with a decent amount of variety to boot.