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Reiner Knizia's Yoku-Gami Review

By , on February 11, 2011

PROS

• Unique, math-oriented puzzle gameplay.
• Three separate game modes to master.
• Clear, cartoonish visuals; aimed at younger/casual audiences.

CONS

• Short background music loop.
• 'Arcade' and 'Level' modes need to provide more emphasis on/give more rewards for playing carefully.

VERDICT

While the term 'educational game' has a whole host of negative feelings associated with it, Reiner Knizia's Yoku-Gami is a great learning tool for younger audiences while remaining a challenging game to master for older puzzler fans.

• Full Review
• App Store Info
•

With plenty of board games already under his belt, Reiner Knizia has turned his hand at producing a simpler puzzle game for the App Store. Yoku-Gami is the result of this collaboration with developer Meritum Soft and you'll need to put your math-hats on to make headway in this puzzler.

Whether you choose the Endless, Arcade or Level mode, the basic gameplay remains the same. Players are presented with a 6x6 grid filled with numbers and to clear them off the board you'll need to select a sequence such that the sum of all the smallest numbers add up to the largest in the group (e.g., selecting '1,1,6,4' is valid as 1+1+4=6). The order of their selection is irrelevant, however much like a three-match style game you'll need to become proficient in foreseeing the results of your actions as removing numbers from the board can make it easier (or more often, harder) to make subsequent matches.

Small, but significant differences in the three available modes gives Yoku-Gami a decent amount of replay value and players will need to master new strategies and overcome the challenges of each one. 'Endless' constantly refills the level after each match, acting as a casual entry-level mode; 'Arcade' will only add new numbers after an entire row or column is cleared, potentially leaving blocks stranded for extended periods of time; and lastly 'Level' requires you to clear out as many numbers as possible, subtracting 'lives' once no moves are left over and refreshing the entire board until you have no lives left.

Unfortunately it's easy to feel as though you're being thrown to the sharks on the last two modes as there's no guarantee that a board will have a valid solution. Thankfully there's no time limit preventing you from taking your time to at least choose the optimal path available to you, but it can be frustrating to feel as though you're punished for anything short of a completely calculated move.

Reiner Knizia's Yoku-Gami is an interesting new concept and one that's worth sharing with younger audiences, but it's hard to enjoy as a puzzler all on its own.