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    cjvitek's Avatar
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    Default Review: KenKen, Train Your Brain

    KenKen: Train Your Brain, by CapCom Interactive, Inc.
    $4.99, ****1/2


    • Challenging math game
    • Easy to play a quick game, or spend a long time

    • Limited Puzzles
    • No leader board or high scores
    • No “correction” mode

    KenKen is another math/logic game that is superficially similar to Sudoku. My father introduced it to me a few weeks ago, so of course I went to my iPhone and downloaded the game to try.

    Superficially, it looks like Sudoku. You have a board with squares, where you need to fill in the numbers. Like Sudoku, no numbers that are the same can be in the same row or column. The difference is how the numbers are placed. In KenKen, you are given a set of squares, a mathematical operation (like “+”), and a number. That simply means that the number show (small) has to be the final result of the mathematical operation with the numbers you place.

    I don’t know if I explained that well, so let me give you an example. Let’s say you have two block (two empty squares where you have to put a number) connected to each other, with a “2-“. That means the two numbers you place, when subtracted, have to equal 2. You could place a 3 and a 1, you could place a 4 and a 2, you could play a 5 and a 3…well, hopefully you get the idea. If the “hint” is “5+”, that means the numbers have to add up to 5. If it is “6x” that means the numbers the numbers multiplied together have to equal six. And so forth and so forth.

    When filling out the puzzle, you have to figure out the different combinations so that you meet the criteria of the hint, as well as making sure no two numbers that are the same are in the same row or column. If it sounds easy, it is…sometimes.

    There are two modes of play in the game – academy and free play. Academy is basically a “training” mode at the different levels (apprentice, amateur, professional, and master). Once you have beaten the academy training, you unlock other puzzles in the free mode. The apprentice mode is the easiest, and anyone unfamiliar with the concept should start out there. Free play goes all the way up to genius level (which includes puzzles where the hint doesn’t include the mathematical function – you have to figure it out). In free play, there are 250 puzzles at each level. If you have completed one, you can see how fast you have finished it.

    Unfortunately, even with 250 puzzles at each level (with 5 levels, that is 1250 puzzles) that means they ARE limited, so eventually you will finish them all. There is no ability to create or import new puzzles – hopefully that may be in an update that would come out.

    There is also no ability to engage in any sort of multiplayer challenge (or online leader board for speed) When I was playing with my father, we would have loved some sort of challenge mode where we were each given the same puzzle and tried to beat each other (even if it was on the same iPhone).

    But the puzzles themselves are fun and challenging. The interface is nice, allowing you to make “notes” about number possibilities (including what numbers CAN’T be included in a square) but it is important to remember that the game doesn’t check for mistakes. This is true both during the game play (so if you make a mistake and put an incorrect number, there is no setting to notify you) as well as at the end (if the puzzle is not correct, there is no way to find where you mistake is. Basically you have to start the puzzle over from scratch.

    All in all, this is a fun, mathematical logic based game. If you like Sudoku, chances are you will like this sort of game. With over 1000 puzzles, it will probably last a while, but keep in mind it is limited. For $4.99, this price is worth the game, which is well designed and have a nice interface. Four and a half out of five stars.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.

    Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.

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