Day 32: Sudoku X

Posted: 2010/12/11 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and no longer appear in the top 50 downloads. Today is day #32, and today’s game is “Sudoku X”.

I’m a fan of Sudoku. It speaks to the same part of the brain that enjoys crosswords, I think. While Sudoku is available in a myriad of forms for almost every imaginable device, I specfically wanted a Sudoku game for the Xbox 360 because sometimes I’m relaxing on the couch and would love to play a round. This is the best of all the Sudoku games I’ve tried, and it turned out to be one of the oldest and among the least expensive. That made it a must-buy for me.

For those that don’t know, in Sudoku your goal is to fill in a 9×9 grid with numbers. No number can be repeated vertically or horizontally, and the grid is further broken down into 3×3 sub-sections and no number may be re-used with that 3×3 grid either. Completing a Sudoku puzzle is a process of sussing out where numbers absolutely can and cannot go, and when you work out that only one number can inhabit a given square you may fill it in. The more you fill it in, the more information you have at figuring out the remaining squares. The game is enormously popular, and by some estimates has surpassed crosswords in popularity.

Other Sudoku games I tried on the Indie Games channel (No Frills Sudoku, Couples Sudoku) suffered a fatal flaw: an inability to make so-called “pencil marks”. That function lets you effectively make notes to yourself (perhaps you might make notes about what numbers cannot possibly inhabit a square, or what numbers absolutely can inhabit a square) as you work out the puzzle. Without the ability to make pencil marks, a Sudoku puzzle is far, far harder to solve. You are constantly working out things you had already deduced, essentially re-inventing the wheel over and over again.

Sudoku X is one of the oldest Sudoku puzzle in the Indie Games channel, coming out back in January 2009. It also has the best feature set, several music tracks, and strong presentation. Nothing I’ve seen from its successors suggests that they have improved on it in any way, or even equaled it. Given Sudoku X costs only 80 Microsoft Points, they aren’t undercutting it in price either (though that last point may have been a different story at the time when those subsequent games were originally released).

With a low price, a wide range of skill levels, and an unlimited number of Sudoku boards, if you’re a Sudoku fan this is the one to get IMO.

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