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We recently got our first look at Zendoku, a puzzle game that takes the popular formula of classic sudoku puzzles and adds its own special twists. For starters, it has a cartoony, martial arts theme that extends from everything to the characters (samurais, ninjas, and karate masters are a few), to the gameplay (quick back and forth multiplayer battles). The overall look and feel of the game is Eastern-inspired as well. Instead of using the numbers one through nine to fill in each sudoku grid, there are nine symbols that take the place of the traditional numbers, including dragons, pandas, and even sumo wrestlers.
We've seen the symbol thing before in sudoku, so there's nothing new there. Using symbols helps to level the playing field a bit between sudoku noobs and experienced players, and also helps attracts players who might otherwise shy away from sudoku because numbers are scary for some, even when no math is involved.
The most significant innovations we saw from the classic sudoku formula were in the multiplayer battle mode (through local Wi-Fi only). Two players can face off in a race to solve a sudoku board in the shortest amount of time, throwing attacks at each other as they solve pieces of the grid.
In regular sudoku, how the player chooses to solve the board makes no difference, only that the board eventually gets filled in correctly. In Zendoku, there's an added strategic element because filling in more than one row, column, or box simultaneously will create larger attacks to send to your opponent. So, filling in a box that only completes a row will send a small attack, but if you wait and strategically leave a box blank, then fill it when it will complete both a row and a column, or a row and a box, and so forth, a bigger attack will be sent. Players can also counter their opponents attacks by strategically timing when they fill in boxes in order to cancel out attacks.