XBLA Hors D’oeuvres: Buku Sudoku
Yes, XBLA Hors D’oeurvres are back. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re simply a weekly feature where I play the latest Xbox Live Arcade game – in trial form – for no more than 10 minutes, and then summarize my impressions of the game based only upon that.
I think the most telling part about Buku Sudoku is that I really had a hard time putting my controller down after 10 minutes. (I actually ran over and play for 11:36, according to the handy in-game clock.) If you’ve ever played a Sudoku puzzle before, then you’ll know precisely what you’re getting into. I’m far from an expert on this particular genre of logic puzzle, but I do enjoy the occasional Sudoku.
When I wrote this week’s XBLA Wednesday story, I said, “As much as I like Sudoku, though, I can’t imagine buying this. When I first heard about it I was excited, but then I realized: Do I really want to stare at numbers on my TV screen?”
As it turns out, I really do.
I didn’t want to waste any time going through options or game modes, of which there are quite a few more than you’d expect from a Sudoku videogame. As such, I was surprised when I jumped right in and found myself playing on 4×3 grids, with the extra three spaces being occupied by the letters A, B, and C.
There’s been a lot of buzz about all the different control schemes you can play the game with; you can play one-handed, with the Big Button Pad, a DDR dance pad, or an Xbox 360 Universal remote (my Harmony remote even works!). I can’t really speak to the other controller methods, but it’s great that the developer included all of these choices. If you want to play on your DDR dance pad, then why should anyone stop you? (To prevent you from looking like a fool, but hey that’s your prerogative.)
Even without achievements (I’m on the trial version, remember), the game envelopes your mind in the same way the game does on paper. That was surprising, as I expected the inability to jot notes in the margins and things of that nature would create a disconnect with the game, but it really didn’t. Plus, the small graphical effect when you correctly solve a line or square provides you with some satisfaction that a paper version can’t.
The only real problem is the potential for straining your eyes; I’d recommend that you take a break from this game pretty frequently, especially if you wear contacts. Otherwise you might end up with a lot of people wondering if you’re high with those bloodshot eyes.
$10 (800 Microsoft points) might seem like a bit much for a Sudoku game, but from what I’ve seen, the game is extremely well made and packs in a lot of value (over a thousand puzzles, several multiplayer modes) for that price. I’m really looking forward to picking up the full version and using this game (and its save feature) as a good way to pass the time in between sessions of GTA.