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I can’t count the number of hours I’ve spent solving Sudoku puzzles in newspapers and puzzle books — there’s just something about numbers on a grid that I can’t resist! As it turns out, Japan has many more games to tickle your brain and kill time with, and my latest favorite is playable on your Android device. Presenting the awesome Hashi Puzzles: Bridges & Islands!




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Based on a traditional puzzle called Hashiwokakero by Nikoli — the publishers of Sudoku, Nonograms and other delightful puzzles — this game requires players to think about both space and numbers, and can keep you engaged and entertained whether you have a minute or an hour to play. Let’s take a closer look at how Hashi Puzzles are solved and see if we can’t beat a level or two.


Hashi Puzzles's pleasant aesthetic (Left) - the in-game tutorial is mighty helpful (Right)

Hashi Puzzles’s pleasant aesthetic (Left) – the in-game tutorial is mighty helpful (Right)


How to Play

The goal of a Hashiwokakero puzzle is to connect the islands (represented by circles) using bridges that you can draw between these islands. Each island has a numeral on it that represents how many bridges must connect to it. So in the example level shown above, all one has to do is swipe between islands to draw bridges, ensuring that each island has as many bridges as its number indicates.


Sounds almost too easy, doesn’t it? There are a few rules governing the bridges you draw, that make each puzzle interesting:



they can’t cross any other bridges or islands
they can only run perpendicularly (and not diagonally)
they must connect the islands into a single group (and not several small groups)
there can only be at most two bridges between any two islands.

Presentation

Developer Francois Guibert has chosen to go with a minimalistic look for his version of Hashiwokakero, which I think suits this game and its rules perfectly — the puzzles traditionally don’t have grids drawn and need to be easy to play on a touchscreen, and Hashi’s muted palette and simple shapes help keep things legible and playable. Plus, it’s much better looking than most other bridges-and-islands titles in the Play Store.


The game looks great on tablets (Left) - Hints (shown in red) are available when you're stuck (Right)

The game looks great on tablets (Left) – Hints (shown in red) are available when you’re stuck (Right)


Cracking Hashi Puzzles

The best way to learn to play Hashi Puzzles is to go through its in-game tutorial that describes the rules and gameplay and has you play an easy level. From there, you can get started on any of the 80 free levels built on grids of increasing difficulty. Each puzzle has a unique solution, and you can earn stars for completing levels without using hints. When you’re hungry for more, there are 420 additional levels that you can purchase in packs of 60, for a dollar each.


Levels go from really simple (Left) to fairly challenging (Right)

Levels go from really simple (Left) to fairly challenging (Right)


Conclusion

Hashi Puzzles is a great interpretation of a clever puzzle game that’s sure to keep you engrossed and entertained, whether you’re bored on a long commute or blazing through levels before bedtime. I could’ve done with a little meditative music to get me into the zone, though. Other than that, this is a sleek puzzler that you shouldn’t miss. After all, it’s free and looks great on tablets and smartphones. Give this a try and give your brain a solid workout!




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