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Sudoku, your number's up

Product: KenKen | Publisher: Capcom | Format: Windows Phone | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
KenKen Windows Phone, thumbnail 1
With the possible exception of 80,085, numbers just aren't very sexy. They're logical, rigid, predictable, and boring. Words, on the other hand can be funny, provocative, rude, and informative.

It's a mystery, then, that number games like Sudoku have proved to be such fun when all we've got on the word game front are variations of Scrabble.

KenKen offers a healthy twist on the Sudoku format, and is actually considerably more fun.

Yes you KenKen

The core principles of KenKen are very similar to Sudoku. The idea is to place numbers in a grid so that they all justify one another's existence.

You can only have one of each number in every vertical and horizontal line, so there's a familiar logical element at play here that often enables you to finish off games even without paying attention to the other, far more challenging element.

That element is arithmetic, and it's where KenKen distinguishes itself from Sudoku.

Counting the blessings

Each grid is divided into irregular clumps of squares. In the top-left hand corner of these is a little number. All of the numbers placed within these areas have to add up to that corner number.

That's simple enough, but soon your numbers have to multiply by each other, divide by each other, or subtract from each other to reach the required solution, as signified by little arithmetic symbols.

And all the while, of course, your numbers have to fit the faithful old Sudoku pattern. It's a genuinely compelling conundrum that only gets more engrossing as more lines and numbers are added to the equation.


There's a generous number of puzzles to work through in each of the difficulty levels and grid sizes, and there are also unsigned stages that effectively ask you to freestyle with the symbols - as long as they add up (or multiply up, or divide up), they're allowed.

In fact, I only really have two bones of contention with KenKen. One is the interface. It's a little counter-intuitive, and I would have liked the ability to finalise a grid with a single touch when using the temporary input button heavily (as is my wont) rather than having to go through and put them all in again 'properly'.

The other snag is the price. We all know that Windows Phone games can be pricey, but £3.99 for a collection of pen-and-paper number puzzles is a little ridiculous.

These issues are enough to take the sheen - and a point - off this otherwise solidly enjoyable number game. Fans of number games in all their logical glory, however, will love KenKen at any price.
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 15 January 2013
KenKen is plain and somewhat overpriced, but there's no denying the Sudoku-troubling brilliance of its core number game mechanics
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