So you paid $600 for this brand-new, hulking entertainment machine…and you want to play
?! Like most launches, the PS3's release list is a mixed bag with only two or three stand-out titles, but it's a good thing that Sony seems to be keeping up with their downloadable content. They released two new games this week, one being a semi-port of the sadly over-looked PSP title: Go! Sudoku.
There isn't much to say about the game itself. Either you're familiar with the puzzle's single rule or you're not (and if you're not, it's this: fill in the blank cells so that every row, column, and 3×3 box contains the numbers 1 through 9). As is so often the case with phenomena like Sudoku, it's easy to learn, but tough to master. The great thing about Sudoku, though, is that it requires no math or outside knowledge, meaning that every puzzle is solvable given enough time and reasoning.
What sets Go! Sudoku apart is its presentation and helpful little touches that make playing more efficient. It's graphically minimalist and aesthetically relaxing – the kind of simple, synaesthesiac style that'll put you in a trance. Gleaming, crystalline "cells" lay atop one of four mind-soothing backgrounds as basic beats set the mood, focusing your mind on the complexities of the puzzle at hand. Not to mention, it's all in beautiful HD!
In the end, there's not much more you can do from a visual standpoint to enhance the puzzle's format, but Go! Sudoku helps out with the actual solving. One of the key techniques in Sudoku is to "tag" cells with small numbers you believe can fit there as a simple reminder when you come back to that square later on. Likewise, you can set "tags" in this game by hitting circle and you can erase them with square. Go! Sudoku goes a little bit further by erasing the tags that no longer fit. For instance, say you tag a cell with a 6 and a 7, but somewhere else along that row/column/box you fill in a 7, it'll automatically erase the appropriate hint in the tagged cell, leaving only 6, which you now know goes in that spot. It doesn't make the game easier, but it does make it faster and more efficient. In addition, the game will also alert you as to when you've completely filled in a row/column/box or when you've used up all of a particular number.
Sony was kind enough to provide a starter pack of Go! Sudoku for free, giving you roughly 15 puzzles spread over the four available difficulties. It's a good opportunity to feel out which one is right for you and then go purchase whichever difficulty levels you choose for about $2.99 each. The trickier packs contain less puzzles, but they are much harder and therefore take longer than their easier kin. The Mild pack features somewhere around 500-600 Sudoku puzzles making it arguably the best value, but if you're a puzzle fiend, the whole shebang shouldn't cost you more than twelve bucks. Even if you only download the starter, you get access to the classic (untimed) and arcade (timed) modes, as well as multiplayer.
Go! Sudoku is a great fit for Sony's downloadable content. It's cheap, engaging, aesthetically pleasing, and the amount of puzzle content is vast. Not to mention, it's a great way to unwind after a hectic session of Resistance or to clear your mind just before going to bed (wireless controller, how we love thee!).