Sunday, August 03, 2008

BUKU Sudoku

Title: Buku Sudoku
Author: Merscom
License: Commercial

A couple months ago, Merscom released a version of their sudoku game for Xbox Live. As part of their PR campaign for this release, they contacted everyone under the sun to get the word out. We grass root bloggers are the best advertising possible, you know! They even contacted me. I don't even own a Xbox or Xbox 360, but that did not stop them. They suggested a little interview. I agreed, what the hell.

Not owning an Xbox and having never used Xbox Live, I cannot review this new version of Buku Sudoku. Here is one review. I have played the PC version. It is part of Buku Brain Blast along with a kakuro and mahjongg game which I grabbed out of the bargain bin one day for $10. An aside: I like the Buku Kakuro. I do not know of a good freeware version of kakuro. If you are a kakuro fan, Buku Brain Blast might be worth $10.

My favorite sudoku is Simple Sudoku. Overall, it is a better game than Buku Sudoku, but Buku does offer a couple of interesting features. One is that it supports larger sizes. In particular, it has 12x12 and 16x16 size sudoku problems. The Xbox version adds additional new features including cooperative play. This could result some intriguing new twists to puzzle games. I am not sure exactly sure where this might end up and am curious.

On to the interview. I passed few questions on to Ben Moy, one of the primary developers of
Buku Soduko. Here are my questions and his answers.

Q: Toughest question first. Why should someone pay $6.99 for the PC version of Buku Sudoku when there are many fine freeware sudoku programs such as Simple Sudoku available?

A: We created Buku Sudoku to cater to the market that demands crisp visuals, lots of game options, and endless puzzle boards. Through the Puzzle ID, It's easy to email or verbally send puzzles to friends and family. There are multiple control schemes that fit different levels of mouse or keyboard familiarity. Players choose between three themes, and each has the option to use corresponding shapes instead of numbers. Finally, all these options work well with the 5 different puzzle sizes to offer all ages something to fit the Sudoku experience they are looking for every time they sit down. These are some of the perks you just can't find in freeware games. Also, please keep in mind that the PC product came out over two years ago, and options were much more limited then.

Q: Are any of the interactive features in the XBox Live version going to be ported to the PC version?

A: This is something we would like to offer PC players as well, being able to include HD graphics, the many highly configurable interfaces, the ambient and active animations, fun music, co-op couch and internet multiplayer, the ability to use various USB controllers (in one handed configurations as well) and other features we were able to bring to the Xbox 360. This coming out will depend on a few things, like the launch of Microsoft's PC Arcade and Buku Sudoku Xbox LIVE reception.

Q: Buku Sudoku generates puzzles in three difficulty levels. Can you give some insight on how this is done?

A: Rather than remove or add givens which I've seen various books and software Sudoku offerings do, we analyze puzzles upon generation to be minimally solvable by various technique groupings.

Q: Buku Sudoku generates 12x12 and 16x16 puzzles. It is known that solving large sudoku puzzes is in general NP-complete. Do you have any quantitative data, such as search tree size or average solution time, for these larger sizes? How much harder are they?

A: We lean to the easier side on these, with the average user spending an hour or so to solve. These grid sizes have the potential to be very difficult, but it's more a slight exercise in memory expansion in Buku Sudoku to maintain accessibility.

Q: Any thoughts on generating puzzles with irregular shapes instead of the usual 3x3 blocks? I think these often go by the name Logi-n for various sizes of n.

A: We have non 3x3 blocks in both the PC and Xbox LIVE This is one thing I've wanted to do from the start of doing Sudoku games, and from having areas where users could create their own puzzles. Allowing border and rule changes would be a lot of fun. Similar to PC, XBLA offers updates and content packs that could make these a reality. I also like some of the variations with symmetry and diagonals in their initial layouts or solutions.


At 7:28 AM, Anonymous kamagra said...

I love sudoku, I made one every day, the one that's is show in the newspaper, I made in the bus and I challenge to myself to finish before arrive downtown haha


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