Basho Kioku is the latest puzzle game from prolific designer Yoshio Ishii of Nekogames. You are faced with a grid of 36 squares, and your goal is to click on each of them in turn. Each round, a random combination of these squares lights up orange, and you must choose one of them. There is no indication of which squares you've previously selected, but if you pick a square more than once, you lose a life. Losing three lives ends your game. You'll be under a strict time limit, and your score depends on how quickly you make your choices.
Sounds easy, doesn't it? But unless your brain is much less packed with cotton than mine, it's impossible to remember more than a few steps back. The real game is in figuring out a system for keeping track of your progress, using the six draggable markers provided in a box on the left side of the screen. You can position these markers freely, even on the borders between squares, and it will pay to invent a foolproof shorthand for yourself.
Ishii coats the simple idea in an understated shimmery gloss, complete with wonderfully quirky and anxious background music. There is an unfortunate Flash-related exploit (find it yourself) that could potentially spoil the game, but there's really no point in cheating at a little puzzle like this. It's an otherwise flawless koan that plays on the tension between the randomness of your choices and the solidity of your strategy. Nicely done, Nekogames.