| Nurikabe

If it isn't sudoku, it's kudoku or some other take on the same game. Fill in squares, add up numbers, make up words; there's often a new twist, repackaging the same commercially successful concept and flogging it, with a celebrity inevitably sticking their mug shot on the cover for a king's ransom. (And it's not just you, Carol Vorderman, there are others.)

And at first glance, Nurikabe may seem to belong to the games cited in the above paragraph. But it doesn't – there's no celebrity endorsement for starters. It also looks far more complex than it actually is, largely due to the fact the instructions are almost too difficult to understand.

Vaguely reminiscent of the early Nokia handset numbers game (the one that wasn't Snake – any takers?), Nurikabe is based around a grid comprising a selection of scattered white squares with numbers in them. Your aim is to paint the corresponding number of squares white according to the figure displayed in the numbered square, thereby turning the group into an 'island'.

However, these islands have to be arranged in such a format so that any remaining squares are not left in a two-by-two (or higher) formation.

Told you it sounded complicated.

The thing is, once you've fathomed it out the gameplay is actually very easy – about as tricky as putting on your shoes, really. Soon after trying it out things click into place and you suddenly realise that all Nurikabe has to offer is the painting of some tiles around numbers.

But therein lies the second deception. You keep on playing and before you know it you've been lured in and found yourself losing chunks of time meticulously working out which tiles should be painted and which should be left untouched.

Matching the underlying simplicity of the game are the controls, which only require up, down, left, right and paint, as well as the visuals, which are perhaps best described as functional.

So, Nurikabe emerges as one of those games that may not look like much to begin with but, once you've figured it out and given it a chance, it will take over your life – at least for a while. The concept is limited, after all, but certainly in the short- to medium-term there's much enjoyment for puzzle gamers here.


A simple but decent puzzle game that proves engrossing while it lasts