DVD Sudoku

I played a game of DVD Sudoku with Johanna yesterday (that’s something only an exceptionally good wife would do for her husband!) and wrote a review in Finnish on the other site.

DVD Sudoku is one of the games featuring the biggest thing of 2005. This version adds another 2005 trend: a DVD. Can something this trendy work well? Well, no, and let me tell you why: the game is weak and the DVD doesn’t work well.

Sudoku is a solo puzzle at heart and doesn’t convert to an interesting multiplayer board game easily. Many games will be either solving a single puzzle taking turns or solving puzzles at the same time seeing who’s the fastest. This one takes the first option: take turns, and when the puzzle is ready, the player who spent the least time thinking wins.

The DVD is used as a timer. Every turn you choose your player number to start the timer. Then you take your turn and end it by pressing Menu on your DVD remote. It’s simple, yet quite annoying, as the DVD player will take some time to move between the menus.

The system is somewhat clumsy. There’s Japanese background music, which unfortunately only plays during the thinking. If the turns are fast, the music cuts on and off in an annoying way. The timer only handles times less than 15 minutes; if you go over, you’ll take a marker. Clumsy!

The game itself looks good. The pieces are two-sided: one side has plain black numbers on beige, the other side has colourful Japanese characters on black. Plain side works better, as the colours of the characters don’t match 100% on cardboard and TV screen. That’s not a big problem, though.

The game has two modes. One is simple sudoku solving. The DVD tells you the setup and you solve until it’s complete. The other mode is more innovative: timed challenge. You start with one of each number placed randomly on the board and draw a random tile to place. The game is over when a tile cannot be placed or the board is full (which is unlikely).

The timed challenge is nice, but the swift turns (just few seconds early and not much more in the end) makes the DVD user interface seem even worse. So, that doesn’t quite work.

In the end I’ll have to say the game simply doesn’t work that well. I’d much rather do sudoku puzzles alone and for that the game is completely unnecessary. Maybe if you have a group of sudoku lovers eager to play the game together — and you have a DVD player and TV on a convenient location! — then this game might work for you. But I think that’s an unlikely scenario for most people.

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