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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Friday Free Game: Sudoku Combat

I'll admit it. I was on a bit of a Sudoku kick a little while back. It's a great puzzle, easy to pick up, and good for a 15-to-45-minute workout of your inductive logic skills. This week's Friday Free Game is a multiplayer version of this wildly popular puzzle called Sudoku Combat.

If you're not familiar with Sudoku, here's the idea: you have a 9 × 9 grid. The object of the game is to fill each square in the grid with a number from 1 to 9 such that each row, each column, and each 3 × 3 block contains each digit once and only once. The puzzles start with a small number of squares already filled in, and then you have to complete the picture. You can learn more about Sudoku strategy at instructables.com or scanraid.com.

Sudoku Combat's tag line gets right to the point: "Play against people, show the world how good you are..." You and an opponent are each given the same Sudoku puzzle and the winner is the one who solves it first. You can even see you're opponent's puzzle filling in as you play, so you know whether you're ahead or behind. Even though it's essentially two people playing individual games, this real-time tracking of your opponent makes it feel like a nail-biting competition.

The other strong point of this game's implementation is its no-fuss approach to playing. Just log in with an alias and the system will pair you up against an opponent who wants to play a puzzle of the same complexity as the one you selected (easy, medium, hard or evil) or you can play against a friend. If you want, you can choose from a huge number of broccoli-shaped avatar images to show off your personality. Essentially, it's a one-click-to-play solution, perfect for those who want a quick Sudoku fix with an added dimension.

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.