Review: Astraware's Sudoku for iPhone
Let's face it, Sudoku implementations on the iPhone are fairly common -- a quick search on the App Store easily turned up around 40 versions -- so can Astraware's latest addition to the genre do the puzzle justice?
Firstly, it's worth saying that I've only played a couple of other Sudoku implementations on the iPhone. Secondly, everyone will have their own ideal way of entering numbers, pencil marks, getting hints, and so on. This is my own reflection based on a couple of hours play this afternoon.
Look and Feel
The first thing I noticed is that the game has a good look and feel to it. It's nicely shaded, fairly understated, with easy buttons and a clear grid layout.
The main 9x9 Sudoku playing grid is a little smaller than some other implementations, because there's a row of nine number tiles and nine "pencil mark" tiles running along the bottom of the screen. There's still plenty of room for chubby fingers to play along, though.
Playing the Game
Each time a square is selected, the software highlights the entire row and column, which can be useful to see exactly what numbers have already been filled in, although it would have been nice to have this as an option.
To enter a number, tap on the square, then tap on the number tile. To remove it, tap again. To enter a pencil mark, tap on one of the smaller numbers in the row below, and again to remove. There's the option for auto-pencil marks, which is handy, as tapping back and forth can get a little bit tiresome.
Hints are available, and tapping and holding a number highlights where they are on the grid. When all of a particular number has been placed, that tile turns white, and when a row, column, or 3x3 grid is complete, it momentarily flashes yellow. Nice feedback.
As per some other implementations, it would be nice if there was some way to remember the last number entered. This would make it quicker to enter the same number in several boxes, which can be a requirement. Having said that, the interface works well.
There's an online high score chart for each puzzle, and thankfully it's all part of the game itself, so no need to launch Safari to view it.
I didn't notice any bugs while playing the game. It seems robust enough.
Sudoku is a very simple puzzle game, with the most important aspect being the availability of legitimate puzzles to play at a range of skill levels. Astraware's implementation is a solid performer -- it does what it's supposed to without fuss.
There are free versions of Sudoku available, but this version for £1.19/$1.99 (until the end of October, at least) is good value. If you like Sudoku, and don't already have another version you enjoy using, then this one's worth checking out.
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