Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Product Review: Sudoku Electronic Game by Techno Source

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Let me just start out by saying, if you like Sudoku, you like electronic games, and you have fifteen bucks to spare, after your bills are paid and you’ve done any monthly saving that you do, just go get this product. You’ll enjoy it.

With that out of the way, let me deal with this product from my perspective. I’m a fan of most puzzles. I don’t spend a lot of time doing puzzles, but I do like them. It’s probably more of a time issue. Do I have time to do a puzzle each day? Not always. I have time to write every day, but not puzzles.

Sudoku is one of those that I always realized that if I was in a situation where I had to spend time where all I could do was read the newspaper, I would likely do the Sudoku puzzle during that time. It’s one of the only puzzles that I’ve ever found as interesting as logic problems. I don’t have time to spend with the newspaper though, so I don’t.

What I do have is way too much time at work where lighted electronics are useful to keep me awake and alert. I don’t sleep at night typically anyway, so I can stay awake easily enough if my brain is stimulated. It’s when I have nothing to do that I start wanting to nod off. It’s a little taboo to say that security guards should find something to keep them busy, because when you’re into something, you’re not paying as much attention as you could to your surroundings. But the truth is that a half distracted guard will always be a better asset than a sleeping guard. In this way, I’ve been slowly building a collection of electronics.

I have a laptop, portable DVD player, book light, Game Boy Advance, cell phone, rechargeable batteries and charger, and now I’ve added a Sudoku game. The Sudoku game is made by a company called Techno Source, and I bought it at Wal-Mart for $15. It comes with 2 AAA batteries, and a plastic stylus for the touch screen.

Point #1 – The stylus is not connected to the game. To me this is a flaw. I know that eventually the string that attaches a necessary piece to a game will wear through and break, but at least until it does, you have a buffer zone.

Point #2 – The product is backlit. When I bought the Game Boy Advance, I forgot the advice my friend Adam had given me, because it had been months. He explained that some models of the Advance are not backlit, and to avoid those. The book light helps with that kind of thing, but it’s nice that the Sudoku game is self-sufficient in that way.

The game has two modes. The first mode randomly generates a puzzle, and you go about solving it. The second mode is set up for you to input a puzzle on your own.

Point #3 – The game play on the product is easy to understand, and user friendly. Some purists might complain that when you make a wrong entry, the entry flashes. Personally, I find it frustrating when I have to backtrack a puzzle because I suddenly realize I did something wrong. Being able to recognize the mistake, and immediately clear the bad entry, is a bonus for me. There is a feature called “Notes” which allows you to place mark numbers though, and it won’t tell you whether it’s correct or not, so if you insist on backtracking your mistakes, you can. I just don’t use the feature. You can also get a glimpse of the answer if you get stuck. I probably won’t use that feature either.

The randomly generated puzzles are generated at beginner and advanced settings, and each of the settings has four levels. The packaging proclaims over a million different puzzles. This mode is the mode you will likely spend most of your time on.

The second mode is intended for people who wish to do the newspaper puzzle, or a puzzle from a book, on the machine. It allows you to enter the information, and when you click done, the game examines it, finds the answer, and you’re set to do the puzzle.

Point #4 – If you’re hoping to enter some random numbers into the machine just so that the game can find the answer and you can do the puzzle, don’t get too attached to the idea. The problem is that if the game can’t find the answer, it will reject the puzzle.

When I’m into something I often want to sit down and make my own. I like reading, so I write. I like music, so I write my own music. I like TV and movies, so I make videos. I like playing games, so I like creating games. This goes for puzzles too. So I was always curious about how one would go about making a Sudoku puzzle, and this game has given me the answer.

The first thing you have to do is fill in the puzzle by creating the solution, which has to work. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ll get to the last two or three numbers and you’ll realize that one of the other numbers is blocking your ability to use the current number by taking up the space you need. If you ever do get a working solution in place, the next step would be to remove numbers so that the puzzle solvers have a puzzle. I’m willing to bet that there are templates available for the various working solutions, and the “different” puzzles are created by the variation in the removed data.

Point #5 – In a strange way, I think that the second mode is a waste because of its limitations, based on the limitations created by the rules of the puzzles. Since inputting random numbers rarely (if ever) works, and since there is hardly any reason to enter newspaper puzzles when you have millions of puzzles at your finger tips, it seems like a nice added feature to a program that is pretty well made, but it’s just likely not to be used often.

All in all, I would give this product a very high rating. If there is any real limit to it for me, it’s that I will probably only ever have the attention span for one or two puzzles a night, and so it doesn’t help to pass the evening the same way that a Game Boy game would. But that’s not a flaw of the game.

1 comment :

  1. I have this same game and I love it, but I wish it was rechargeable. When I first put the batteries in it is really bright then after a few days it looks great then in a few more days it starts getting dimmer and dimmer. It would be nice to have the back light consistent.

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