Sudoku Rules Extreme Pocket PC ReviewSudoku Rules Extreme by Spiral Mile for Pocket PC is the only download I've encountered that breaks down step-by-step solutions for your Pocket PC Sudoku puzzles-- during play!
After logging several months of play, I can safely say that this title is a Sudoku staple for the numerological puzzle set.
I've also posted another popular Sudoku download review in addition to Sudoku Rules that may interest you.
A Documentation Powerhouse
The makers may have been aware of my initial irritant with this Pocket PC game: the user interface is not exactly intuitive.
Never a subscriber to RTFM methodology, I skipped out on the manual and skipped straight to the gaming.
At first this turned out to be an exercise in masochistic madness as plays on the 9x9 grid were far from user-friendly.
They've made up for this by including a sizable manual, stepping you through each type of solution, complete with detailed screenshots and directions.
It's the first Pocket PC title among Sudoku puzzles that is worth it for the documentation alone. That the developers went to the trouble to put this together is truly amazing.
It works if you're bent on showcasing your intellectual prowess by incorporating words like like "Jellyfish" and "Swordfish" into your Sudoku respository.
The question is whether anyone besides the most hardened of Sudoku enthusiasts would care, as I soon learned.
My colleagues' apathy was evident when I expounded at length on NRule Triple solutions. Tough crowd.
VGA vs. Non-VGA Pocket PCs
If you're agonizing over the old VGA vs. non-VGA question, there's little advantage of owning a VGA based Pocket PC for this download.
After tests on my Dell Axim x51v (VGA) and iPAQ 4150 (non-VGA), apart from ever so slightly sharper visuals, it looks gorgeous on both types of displays.
The text for the Sudoku puzzles' solutions is small yet very legible.
There's little in the way of customization options. Sudoku Master is the better choice solely based on this criteria as you can alter number colours and tile palettes.
Don't look to Sudoku Master, however, if involved solutions and explanations are your thing.
This is a great segue for the hints and solutions system for the Sudoku puzzles in Sudoku Rules.
Hints and Solutions Engine
Hands down, this Sudoku title boasts of the most impressive hints and solutions system that I've ever encountered.
It will not only give you involved "how to play Sudoku" guidelines, but it gets really down and dirty with some really thorough breakdowns of play-by-play solutions.
In layman's English, to boot.
Sudoku Rules contributes to the 'why' behind the plays, so often ignored by other hint engines for Sudoku puzzles.
A lot of downloads lean towards the 'instant answer' technique that often confounds more than clarifies.
As a regular Sudokuist, I was surprised to see that the good old XY Wing and my classic Elimination strategiesthat I so often employed during my Sudoku puzzles were broken down in full visual detail.
As it turns out, this is the first Pocket PC Sudoku game to do so.
I found that after some regular viewing of the visual solution system I became more adept at implementing more complex solutions as my overall Sudoku Rules playing time accumulated.
Once I got the hang of the interface this turned out to be one of the most valuable gems amongst it's Sudoku puzzles brethren in terms of gameplay.
Each board is 'test played' as your Pocket PC churns out some CPU cycles towards silently running through to the solution.
Sudoku Rules then provides the names and details of the solutions types that you will have to execute to solve the puzzle.
In Extreme difficulty mode this is akin to knowing that several complex Calculus equations are pending for your pop quiz.
Reassuring, but not much help.
Not unless you understand and understand each solution pattern, anyway.
You place your numbers on the board by choosing it along a number strip featured in the bottom-right corner of the screen with the numbers 1 through 9.
A bit less cumbersome than the 'number pads' featured by many Sudoku downloads where you pick your number from a pad that pops up when a cell is touched.
The pencil mark bar is depicted in a different colour below, making for some easy placements of the pencil marks by selecting the numbers along the bar.
There's also a Save feature in case work gets in the way, along with a 6-digit board seed number that you can pass along.
Other Pocket PCs with this Sudoku download can specify the seed number and reproduce your game.
All the better to lend credibility to the mental 200-pounder you snagged while fly fishing.
One thing that I missed that was featured in my Sudoku Master review was the lack of cross-hatching (the intersecting lines) that would appear whenever I touched a cell.
It made it somewhat easier to perform a quick scan while furiously cranking out the logic.
Nevertheless, adapting to its absence was easy given the comprehensive hint engine used by the Sudoku Rules download.
I found the Number hint came in handy, as I'll soon explain.
The Sudoku Rules hint engine features 3x3 hints that reveal the next easiest solvable 3x3 grid on the 9x9 board.
As this proved a little too specific, I opted largely for the Number Hint. When used in tandem with the number bar, it will highlight the relevant cells for the chosen numbers on the board.
This made up for the lack of dynamic, real-time cross-hatching during number placement.
The Sudoku Rules hint system is still obscure enough to put a self-satisfied smirk on my face for relatively low Extreme times while wrestling with Sudoku puzzles without feeling like a big, fat cheater.
If no number is selected on the strip when using the Number Hint, it will provide the number of the next solution, but not where the cell is located.
A strike for the Sudoku moralists among us.
The Sudoku Rules Shapes Hint assists you in detecting patterns arranged with shapes that correspond to each solution type, along with the Pencil Hint and Full Hint.
Pencil Hint, of course, populates the board with the pencil marks. They become permanent if you use the Sticky Pencil option.
The Full Hint is where this Sudoku incarnation really shines.
Click on Full and you will see the solution to the next solvable step, along with full explanations of the logic behind it.
Cons: No real-time cross hatching. Lack of customization options. Not all that intuitive at first.
Pros: Sudoku Rules features a robust feature set, polished graphics, a massive manual and a truly advanced and innovative hint engine.
PDAGameGuide Rating: 4.9 out of 5
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