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Issue 5.1


SuDoKu Master

Issue: 5.1 (September/October 2006)
Author: Will Phillips
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,679
Starting Page Number: 10
Article Number: 5106
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For the three of you who haven't run across Sudoku yet, it works like this. Imagine nine tic-tac-toe boards grouped into a square. The object is to fill the nine spaces of each tic-tac-toe board with the numbers one through nine (once each) in such a way that each column and row of the larger square also uses the numbers one through nine only once. Some of the squares are already filled at the start of the puzzle; your job is to fill the others.

SuDoKu Master is a very solid implementation of the game. Puzzles can be generated at three levels of complexity. Beginner puzzles pre-fill 30 squares (of 81), advanced puzzles pre-fill 25 squares and master level puzzles pre-fill 15 squares. Registration allows these settings to be adjusted, however, and also the number of hints that the software will give. Once the puzzle is underway, a timer tracks your puzzle-solving prowess. All that's required to enter a number into a square is clicking on the square an typing the desired number. The contents of a square may be emptied by selecting it and typing a space.

There is one particularly nice touch which is worth mentioning specifically. It is sometimes helpful, when mid-puzzle, to mark a particular square with placeholder numbers that might fit in that square, depending on how the puzzle develops. SuDoKu Master handles this neatly by allowing the user to select a square and type these placeholders into it. For instance, if you suspect that a 3, 6 or 8 might work for a square, you can select the square and type each of these numbers into it. A tiny "3 6 8" appears in the square. Type any of these numbers again to delete it, or type a space to delete them all.

Only one puzzle can be active at a time, but other features make up for this limitation. You can save the active puzzle to a text file, reload it later or perhaps send it to a friend. You can also print the current puzzle, as well as its solution.

The weaknesses of the software are fairly minor. For example, certain interface elements are a bit drab, particularly the tower of thirteen identically-sized buttons on the right side of the puzzle window. The user would be well served by the arranging of these buttons into meaningful, separated groups. The registration tab of the preferences window allows the entry of a registration code but doesn't provide a link to a web location where a code can be purchased (although other popup windows do). There are also a number of deviations from typical human interface guidelines, particularly with respect to menu item names. But all of these are small issues. Overall, it's a solid piece of work and a lot of fun.

End of article.