Anyone who has picked up a newspaper, checked out at a grocery store, or visited a bookstore in the last year has been confronted by the little Japanese number puzzle known as Sudoku. Of course, now there are Sudoku ports for pretty much any kind of handheld device. And BlackBerry is no exception.

If you are shopping for a Sudoku game for your BlackBerry, there are a dizzying array of options to choose from. So how do you know what to buy? You know because you’re an astute reader of, and because I’ve played Sudoku games on my BlackBerry until tiny little numbers are pouring out of my ears.

I’ve chosen four of the top selling Sudoku games on the market for review: Magmic’s Sudoku, Filao’s Sudoku Pack, Kragesoft’s Sudoku, and Real Dice’s Sudoku Master. All the games I looked at were decent renditions of the game, and really, you can’t go wrong with any of them. This isn’t too surprising since the game itself is pretty simple. How hard could it be to draw a grid of numbers on the screen?

Filao’s Sudoku Pack is a great looking game packed with features. I found the interface a little complex at times, but it is certainly playable once you get the knack of switching between pencil notation (for “penciling in” number possibilities) and number entry. This was one of two games I looked at that makes it possible to enter your own grid. So you could for example enter the Sudoku from the local paper, and then use the Solver feature to solve the game. This seems like a great feature if you are a fan of the newspaper puzzles but don’t want to wait for tomorrow’s edition for an answer.

Magmic has put together a very nice Sudoku game that looks good, has an intuitive interface, and carries the cheapest price tag of our contenders. While this game lacks some of the advanced features found in the other games, I also found it the easiest to play. Magmic’s game is also unique in that it has a network component that allows you to download 4 new games every day. Your score on those games can also be submitted to their servers and you can compete for the glory of being the best Sudoku player around. Another stand out feature of Magmic’s Sudoku is the optional conflict display that highlights the row, column, or grouping that clashes with an illegal move.

The one glaring omission from Magmic’s Sudoku is the lack of a Save game function. This seems like a must have feature if you are only playing stand alone games, but I suppose you could argue that it makes sense given the competitive network aspect of this Sudoku version.

Real Dice’s Sudoku Master features 5 difficulty levels and a whopping 1 billion puzzles. It also had the greatest number of features and the smallest memory footprint. The puzzle graphics were plain, but given the large feature set, Sudoku fans might not care that the number board looks fairly unexciting. Sudoku Master has an input system that lets you do all the number entry using the thumbwheel and pop up menus. Fans of one handed playability might particularly like this method, although I prefer using the keypad like in Magmic’s or Filao’s game.

Kragesoft’s Sudoku provides a solid entry at a medium price tag. It had fewer features than the other games, but the graphics looked nice, and it did provide the greatest number of difficulty levels. I found the annotation mode awkward. If you want to “pencil in” a few number in a square, you must go to a completely separate screen and select which numbers to add from an option menu. They are then displayed as dots in the square. This game also uses the thumbwheel for entering the numbers, allowing for one-handed play.

Looking at all these games, it’s hard to pick one that stands out as the leader. If you like a cheaper price tag and network competition, then Magmic’s game is an excellent choice. If you don’t care about measuring your Sudoku prowess with other BlackBerry owners, then Filao’s great graphics, large feature set, and easy playability make it a great addition to your BlackBerry.

Here is a handy little comparison chart summarizing the games I looked at. The games are ranked and assigned an overall rating, which is a subjective score based on a combination of individual ratings, the feature set, memory footprint, and overall playability of each game.

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