It seems that the grid-numbering puzzle game Sudoku has become more popular with DS owners as of late with several games out now giving players the chance to play the game on the go. Brain Age was one of the first to really introduce Sudoku onto the DS. For anyone not familiar with the game, Sudoku plays on a 9 by 9 grid of squares. The whole field as a whole is divided into 9 squares 3 by 3 each making 9 boxes within them. The object of the game is to fill each of those 3 by 3 boxes with digits from 1 to 9. The catch is that you cannot repeat a number more than once in that same box, as well as in the same row and column across the entire play field. Using the process of elimination you must fill the entire field with numbers. It may sound somewhat uninteresting on paper, but Sudoku can be pretty addictive.
Now Brain Age was really a fantastic game to play Sudoku on. Unfortunately, for whatever reason Sudoku Gridmaster is no where near the same quality as it was on Brain Age. There isnít really any variety in modes at all, the game is just basically straightforward Sudoku and thatís all. There are several difficulty levels available. As you complete puzzles you earn stars. The faster you complete a puzzle the more you get. As you collect stars, they will unlock more bonus puzzles. There are also ranking tests that give you a puzzle to complete within a certain time limit. Thatís all the game really has available. While there may not be much of any variation, the game contains more than 400 puzzles, which will certainly keep you occupied for a long time.
The user interface is really where the game shows its weaknesses. Itís not very intuitive. Brain Age was near perfect where you could simply write on the screen to get the numbers that you wanted where you wanted them. The recognition was also very accurate. Gridmaster gives you two options for entering in numbers, but neither of them work as smoothly as Brain Age. First there is a number pad which you simply tap the number that you want. If you want to make notes in the corners youíll have to again tap a box showing the smaller squares above the pad. Even after you figure out what the number is you have to back to each of them to erase them if you donít want them on there anymore. Unlike Brain Age you have to keep going back and forth from the grid to the pad to enter in numbers instead of just putting them directly on the square. Needless to say it can get tedious. The second option aside from the pad is writing the numbers in. The only problem is the game is bad at recognizing numbersĖeven misconstruing 1's for a 7 and itís nearly impossible to write a 5 without it coming up as an 8.
Gridmaster isnít exactly anything spectacular to look at. Of course it canít be expected for the graphics to be mind-blowing, but they certainly could have been better. The background is drab and the game just doesnít look as neat and clean as Brain Age was. There is an option to change the background with three selections, but it only slightly adjusts the color. Sound is also unimpressive, especially the music which is more annoying than anything else. Again, youíre given three selections to pick from, but youíre probably better off just playing without the sound.
In the end this game is probably only the most suitable for real Sudoku fans. Brain Ageís version of the game is a lot easier to use and overall more fun. Not to mention Sudoku isnít a game for everyone, so even if you donít end up liking it, youíll still have all the other mini-games to play around with. While Gridmaster is hard to top for the sheer amount of puzzles and budget price, you would probably be better off just going with Brain Age.