SONY PSP REVIEW: GO! SUDOKU

The popular newspaper puzzle is now available for take-out. by Cass Andrusiak

April 12, 2006 - Like most classic puzzles, Go! Sudoku, is easy to learn and can take a lifetime to master, depending on the difficulty level. But before we get into the finer points of the game I think it only fair to mention that Sudoku is not only available in various newspapers but it's also available on the net for free. The PSP game comes with 1000 puzzles, but on the net there are millions of puzzles. You can download more puzzles onto the PSP's memory stick by using the PSP browser or your own PC. Sudoku fanatics will definitely want to get their hands on a portable version of their favorite puzzle game but keep in mind that you can also print out the puzzles on the net and carry a pencil and eraser with you. It can be a lot cheaper in the long run but it may not be as convenient.

Go! Sudoku is not the kind of game that you're likely to rent unless you just want to test it out and see if it's something that you life. Once again, play it for free on the net to see if you like it or not. If you get hooked then you know what to do. The PSP version is definitely the most convenient way to go. You can play it anywhere, at anytime. If you want to carry some pieces of paper around with you you're going to have to lug around a flashlight for low light areas. Don't forget that you might be chasing those papers around the park on a windy day. And what if you lose your pencil? There are advantages to the PSP version but only you can determine if they are right for you.

Go! Sudoku is like a numbered version of a crossword puzzle. Only numbers from 1 to 9 are used- nothing else. While that might sound boring, it's anything but. The challenges are very stimulating, requiring you to do a lot of juggling in your mind while you fill in the blanks with the exact numbers.

The playfield, as we'll call it, consists of 81 individual squares. These are divided into nine rows and nine columns of nine squares each. The playfield is then further divided into nine equal sections of squares arranged in equal rows and columns of three squares. We'll call these sections, boxes. Then entire playfield kind of looks like a bingo card, just more symmetrical. Are you with me so far? If not just have a look at the graphic and that should help clarify everything. One picture is worth a thousand puzzles.

Each puzzle begins with some numbers placed seemingly randomly in a few squares. Where these numbers are placed and how many there are will determine the difficulty of the puzzle. In any event these numbers are not randomly placed. They not only determine the difficulty of the puzzle but they are also used to help solve it. The premise is to fill each row, each column and each box with a number from 1 to 9, with no repeats. That means that if you already have an eight in a row, you'll have to find another number to put there. You don't have to add the rows and columns up. There's no real math to the game at all. The numbers could be icons for all that matters. It's just easier to keep track of nine different numbers as opposed to nine different images. There's a tutorial that will explain everything that you need to know.

What you have to do is basically use the process of elimination. Some puzzles will flow while other will give you a headache. There really is no simple solution but you will come up with your own style of play and develop some kind of formula or method. Mistakes will be made and that's why you'll want to play the game with a pencil if you're doing it on paper. That's another thing you don't have to worry about with the PSP. You just choose a square with the D pad, pick a number by pressing the trigger button and enter it by pressing X. There is only one correct answer (number) for each square in the puzzle.

The faster you complete the puzzle the better your score will be. The game will tell you when you've made a mistake and will penalize you for it. There are four different difficulty settings that you can choose from. You can challenge up to four players via the wireless feature and see who can complete the puzzle the fastest. You can share a demo version of the game with other players that have a PSP but don't own a copy of Go! Sudoku. In another twist you can pass the entire PSP around to different players and have them enter the next number. It's kind of like a poor man's co-op mode, but it works.

Go! Sudoku is a very basic looking game but there's no reason to dress it up. There are some animated background graphics and there's some ambient music but it's designed to enhance the experience, not interfere with it. The control system is not as immediate as it would be on the DS touch screen but there's no other way around it. If you're into the game, you're going to be into it big time. It's very addicting and it's good for your brain. You can't say that about very many things.

Features:

  • Game Share - send your PSP owning friends up to 5 Sudoku puzzles to try
  • Save your scores with Best Times and merge records wirelessly with other players to see who really is kingpin
  • Personalize your Sudoku experience with pictures from your photo directory
  • Enjoy animated 'elemental' grid backdrops covering air, earth, water and fire
  • Test your nerve with the Time Challenge Mode
  • Keep it fresh - downloadable content will include brand new puzzle packs

By Cass Andrusiak
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Go! Sudoku (PSP)
3.2
Graphics
Basic graphics. The playfield looks like a glorified bingo card...but that's Sudoku for you.
4.0
Control
It's less messy and more convenient to play Sudoku on the PSP as opposed to using a pencil and paper. But it's not cheaper.
2.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Subdued background music makes it easier to concentrate, but then again so does silence.
4.5
Play Value
If you get addicted to this game you're in good company. Millions of people play Sudoku all over the world.
3.6
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PSP
Dev: Sumo
Pub: Ubi Soft
Release: Apr 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cass

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best