When I was in elementary school, I had a teacher that taught me a good mnemonic device for remembering the symbols for greater than and less than. She said to imagine a crocodile (or a hungry bird or a Pac-Man or something) in between the two numbers. The crocobirdman would always open its mouth and eat the larger number. Little did I know back then that I would later find myself facing grids of over one hundred of these symbols in varying patterns. In Futoshiki, a Sudoku-like number puzzle, your goal is to fill in the grid using a slew of inequality symbols as your only hints.
Like in Sudoku puzzles, Futoshiki puzzles have one of each digit in every row and column. You will often come across puzzles that have no starting digits, so you must rely on the inequality clues to fill in the grid. For example, if you find a chain of boxes that are greater than the next box in line, you could assume the positions of higher and lower digits in that chain. To input a number, you can either click and hold a box then drag down to the number you want, or use the [arrow] keys to move the yellow outline to the box you want and press the number key on your keyboard.
Analysis: For such an engaging puzzle, it's somewhat disappointing that the presentation for Futoshiki is a little bit lacking. As with Kakuro, another logic puzzle offering from the developer, ATK Solutions, the graphics are rather simple and the music is somewhat cheesy and might get grating after a bit (pun unintended). It would be easy to pass this game off as slightly amateurish if you didn't spend enough time with it.
But if you take the time to sit down and play a few puzzles, you'll realize one thing rather quickly: These puzzles can be deviously difficult. With so few clues to help you out, you'll most likely start to solve these puzzles by eliminating many possibilities before you can confidently fill in a single cell. Fortunately, you can use the pencil feature to write in potential answers, or even print out puzzles if you prefer to work them out on paper.
If you're willing to look past the less-than-appealing design, Futoshiki is still a clever puzzle that should please any heavy-duty logic puzzler. If you think you're ready for something that's perhaps a bit trickier than the standard Sudoku but still a smidge easier than crocobirdman wrangling, be sure to give Futoshiki a try. The challenge may be greater than you think!