I hate suduku, I frigging hate it. Putting numbers in rows and columns feels too much like work to be the least bit funny. So how the heck did I get myself hooked on KENKEN? According to my friend slurring in the tent next to me after downing a bottle of Jack Daniels it looked like I was playing some kind of mathematical suduku with numbers, and then some more numbers. He then feel asleep, and I continued playing KENKEN on paper that I had printed from the KENKEN site. Once awake the following day I took a hike in the countryside, while my mates slept the Jack Daniels sleep in the tents, to find some edge connectivity. After a couple of miles I found some along the river, and managed to connect to the App Store. Since purchasing KENKEN out in the wilderness a week ago I have been hooked, hooked really badly. I even stopped playing my five star game Defender Chronicles, that is how hooked I have been. Hopefully there is some kind of ten-step program to free me later on, but not now as I just have one more KENKEN to complete. Just one more puzzle.
KENKEN is exactly what my mate defined it as in his stupor, a mathematical suduku. You have to insert numbers into rows and columns, but instead of having some numbers predetermined like in ordinary suduku you have to complete mathematical operations. 8+ for example can be 3+5 if you have 2 cells, and numbers 1 to 5. There are different sizes to the puzzle ranging from 3×3 to 6×6, with the corresponding numbers. Puzzle size 3×3 has numbers 1 to 3 to fill every row and column while 6×6 has numbers 1-6.
You also have cages where mathematical operations can include numbers from different rows and columns. The game gets progressively harder, and you can either choose free play mode or academy mode. To unlock new puzzles in free play you have to complete challenges in the academy mode. Difficulty range from apprentice to genius, I have mastered the entire academy so far including difficulties apprentice to master. I have now unlocked the final difficulty that is genius. What sets genius apart from the easier difficulties is the fact that you only get a number without knowing which operation is needed to get that number. It gets really hard but still practise makes perfect, and I can feel my brain responding better and better to the challenge presented. At times I also go back and do speed runs of the easier puzzles just to confirm the skill I have developed.
There are a lot of puzzles in the game (250, 50 per level of difficulty) but I think the game needs an update letting users download new puzzles to give the game longer gamelife. Having an academy is brilliant, and really motivates you to play on to become a KENKEN master.
The touch controls are responsive, and I think they work brilliantly. You can erase numbers as well as putting numbers in that might work, like just making a note. I rather just put numbers in, and change them when I fail the puzzle.
I must say that the value in terms of gamelife, challenge and satisfaction upon completing puzzles is well worth the $5. If you like suduku this is perfect for you, if you don’t I still think you should try it as KENKEN plays in a completely different manner. Go to the KENKEN site and try it out before you buy anyway, you might get hooked though.
Presentation and graphics
KENKEN has clean and crisp presentation perfect for the type of game. It is nice to be able to change themes.
Muzak according to theme, all three become annoying after a short time. Thankfully it can be turned off, and you can play your own music/podcast instead.
Great controls coupled with a perfect progression of challenge. You don’t have to be a mathematical wiz kid to play, the hardest operations are 72x and 13+. The challenge is always about where to put the numbers.
On apprentice a puzzle takes about 15 seconds to complete once you get a hang of them, on master they take 15 to 30 minutes. Gamelife is quite long, and is enhanced by you being forced to complete academy levels to get to harder puzzles. Would have liked to have downloadable content, and some kind of online leaderboard.
KENKEN is a great game giving you plenty of challenge and fun for your five bucks. It is a kind of mathematical suduku though, and the question is “are you gamer enough to become a KENKEN master?” The concept of training the brain while having fun is something I really enjoy, and hopefully something good happens in my grey lump of goo.