The New York Times has a great article on the Japanese gaming company responsible for the Sudoku craze. The article is interesting, but be sure to check out the sidebar, where you can try three up-and-coming rivals to Sudoku.
Personally I find Sudoku a little boring: After I figured out a “system” that allowed me to work out almost any puzzle, it just doesn’t offer much challenge. So what’s next? I really like Kakuro, which has actually been around for a while (I can even remember its U.S. version from the 1970s: “Cross-Sums”). You can try the sample puzzle on the New York Times page, but the Washington Post has a much better interface and a new puzzle every day. Puzzles are rated for difficulty, with one star being very easy and four stars sometimes practically impossible. Usually the more difficult puzzles come at the end of the week. I’ve never seen a five-star puzzle.
I had never seen the other two examples on the New York Times site: Masyu and Nurikabe. Both games are excellent. Nurikabe is intriguing, but I wonder if it will end up being a bit too easy in the long run, much like Sudoku.
Masyu is simply fascinating. The goal is to draw a line — a loop that connects back to itself — through all the circles in the square. Each circle has different “rules” — a line through a black circle must be a corner, and a line through a white circle must be straight. The line approaching and leaving black circles must be straight, and one or both of the lines approaching white circles must be corners. Can you see why my partial solution won’t work?
This is the sort of game that comes with many “brain fitness” products, so arguably playing these games isn’t just a time-waster, but also something which helps improve mental ability.
Do you know of other fun puzzle games? Good online sites for the games listed above? Let us know about them in the comments.