Saturday, April 15, 2006

Japanese Puzzles

When I have a few minutes to kill, I often turn to what are loosely called Japanese Puzzles. This week, I am going to share some of my favorites. I hope there is something new on this list for you. Most of my links are to freeware sites. I want to thank the authors and programmers of these sites for the time and energy they have put into creating and maintaining their websites and programs.


Sudoku is currently the in thing in the United States. Despite having been in Dell Magazine for years, sudoku's popularity took off in the last year. I guess people found Japanese name exotic or something. All you have to do is fill in the 9x9 grid with the numbers 1 to 9 such that no number appears twice in any row, column, or 3x3 subregion. There are a ton of sites and programs available for sudoku fanatics. The one I like best is a freeware program written by Angus Johnson called Simple Sudoku. It generates random sudoku puzzles. There are five levels of difficulty. The interface is simple and clean. Plus, it is free. I cannot imagine a better a sudoku program.

Actually, the sudoku fad is starting to fade right now. The next big thing is kakuro. They have also been around forever under the name cross sums. I have not found a great freeware kakuro program. Yoogi Games has a freeware program with 30 puzzles, but I do not like the interface. There are several commercial programs such as Kakuro Master and Kakuro Cross Sums. Unless you crazy about kakuro, they probably are not worth the cost.


Slitherlinks are my personal favorite among the puzzle types I am mentioning today. Here you have to find a closed loop about the given grid in such a way the number of edges adjacent to each numbered squares equals the number displayed within the square. These can get pretty challenging, and I get a great deal of pleasure out of solving them. has a collection of 300 slitherlink puzzles for you to play in your browser using java.

If this is not enough, has 35 more. The site also contains many other puzzle categories. I also really like bridges or what they call Hashi. Finally, there is a flash based game called Express Maze which is somewhat similar to slitherlink.


Nonograms also go by the names paint by numbers and griddlers. Some people use the term "Japanese Puzzles" to refer only to nonograms. Given that nonograms seem to have actually originated in Japan unlike sudoku, I guess that is fair. In a nonogram, the numbers on the top and left give the run length of the black and white segments in that row or column. Vadim Teriokin has a site with 265 nonograms for us to play. Andries Brouwer also has a site 237 nonograms.

Neither has a perfect interface. Japon Cross is a freeware program which allows you make and play nonograms. It looks very good, but I have not played it enough to give it my full recommendation. There are many commercial nanogram games. The best is probably Griddlers Deluxe.


At 5:17 AM, Blogger Puzzler said...

check out this website for playing nonograms onlne:
Nonograms Online
and you may find the slither link even more addictive
Slither Link Online ;)

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Free nonograms online: Nonograms Online

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

are there any good slitherlink programs?

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Jimmy said...

I don't know of any great slitherlink programs. This one isn't bad:


At 3:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you know, where i can found the printable version for japanese puzzle?

At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you love nonograms, you will love playing Gemsweeper, nonogram puzzle from The game is easy to use, has colourful graphics and 225 mind bending puzzles.Even kids will love this.Try it

At 5:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again,
i forgot to add a dircet link to Gemsweeper, here it is

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Dennis said...

If you like Nonograms, also called Paint by Numbers then you should definitely check out

At 2:25 PM, Anonymous kamagra said...

Sudoku is my favorite puzzle game, it keep my mornings always busy.


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