Sudoku Gridmaster is one of the first games from Nintendo to get branded with the Touch Generations label, which identifies titles that anyone can pick up and play — even those with zero gaming experience — and that can be played at competitive levels or as casual fun.
The logo for these games appears in orange, with the letter G and a stylus. Touch Generations titles include Big Brain Academy, Brain Age, Magnetica, Nintendogs, Electroplankton, Tetris DS, and True Swing Golf.
Nintendo is attempting to reach those who have little experience with video games and those who like puzzles and other games in this category; Sudoku Gridmaster fits in very well. The game works like a puzzle; enter the numbers between one and nine in all the squares in the grid, while ensuring no one number appears in the same row or column twice. If you've played Sudoku in Brain Age, however, be warned that the two are different in how you use the controls.
Sudoku Gridmaster for the Nintendo DS contains over 400 puzzles ranging from easy to difficult, so fans can get plenty of nine-by-nine-squared goodness to keep them busy for a long time. Those who've never played the puzzle or haven't gotten the hang of using a Nintendo DS will appreciate the game's detailed help and guidance. The game comes with practice mode to help you get a feel for the game and its rules.
However, using a stylus with Brain Age's version of Sudoku is easier than with Gridmaster. The handwriting recognition doesn't work as well in Gridmaster and the controls are more tedious, whether you write them or tap them. Gridmaster does have a few tools that come in handy, double-tapping a number highlights all of the same number that appear in the grid. It also lets you highlight entire rows and columns.
Question marks float in the background, which gets annoying after a while. While you can change the background color, you can't turn off the animation. To move around the game, you can use write or touch mode, although in write mode, you tap the screen to do a few tasks.
Most electronic Sudoku games erase the temp numbers upon entering a final number into the box, but not this game. You have to select one of the four little boxes where the temp numbers live and then erase it.
See screen shots of the game to see how it's laid out.
As soon as you solve a puzzle, you earn stars based on how fast you completed it and the level of difficulty. After collecting a specific number of stars, you unlock bonus puzzles.
Puzzle and Sudoku fans will enjoy playing this in spite of its few usability challenges that slow down the game play. Maybe Nintendo will take note and improve its usability in a future release. Owners of other aforementioned Touch Generations games should be happy to add this one to their collection. Unlike many video games for handheld consoles, this one retails for a low $19.99.
A personal note/more background: Before these types of games came out, a family member and I had no desire to get a Nintendo DS, as the Gameboy Advance was good enough. Since the arrival of Brain Age and Big Brain Academy, we can't get enough of these Nintendo DS games.
The family member hails from the baby boomer generation, and never played video games beyond online puzzles. Nintendo made a wise move in going after the baby boomers and puzzle lovers, as no other gaming company has taken such steps.
A 2004, an AOL study indicated that women over the age of 40 spend more time online playing games than men, almost 50 percent times more. A recent Synovate survey found that women prefer online games and TV game shows to packaged software games.
Why not capture this market by making the online games portable? That's what Nintendo did and we look forward to more… I think. If the company releases more of these, I won't have time to do much else.
Sudoku Gridmaster is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.