Game Review

While waiting in the pick up line at school yesterday, I decided to try a new (to me) logic puzzle. I enjoy doing Sudoku so I thought I would give it a try. Futoshiki translates to “inequality”. An inequality in mathematics, according to Wikipedia, is “a statement how the relative size or order of two objects, or about whether they are the same or not”. I should have known to stay away from logic puzzles that uses math signs. It is clearly not my strong point.

A Futoshiki puzzle is made up of 25 squares – 5 across and 5 down. Similar to Sudoku, you need to place numbers 1-5 in each row and column, but not duplicate them. In addition, there are less than and greater than signs placed throughout the puzzle. I thought, “I can do this! This game looks easy!”

So without the benefit of reading any tips, I just started to work on it. The first row was simple. It already contained two numbers and two symbols. I could quickly fill in the other three numbers. I worked on the rest of the puzzle by branching off from there and using the process of elimination to fill in the other spaces.

Everything was going along fine, or so I thought. I worked on it for less than five minutes and had most of the puzzle filled in. When I had 20 of the squares filled in, I noticed my error. I made the mistake early on and that screwed up the whole puzzle.

I later showed my husband the puzzle and he boasted that he could finish it, correctly, in less time. My husband enjoys and excels at math. I am sure he can do better than I did. Okay, Superman, try this link and let me know how you do. I will be going back to Sudoku!


Today is National Video Game Day. Yes, they have a day for everything. This is one of those “holidays” that falls on the exact day, no matter what day of the week it falls on. Lucky, lucky! It falls on a day off of school.

Given the opportunity, my son would play video games all day long. He is a natural. He can pick up a controller from any game system and any game and within a few minutes, he is an expert. My girls are pretty good at it, too, but they don’t love it like he does. On the rare occasion that they ask me to play with them, I have to admit, I suck. It wasn’t always like that. I used to be a pretty competitive player.

I am from the Atari generation. We played with joysticks that were amazingly unbreakable. Our graphics were pathetic compared to today’s games. My favorite game was River Raid. You were a plane that shot down other planes, helicopters, boats, bridges, etc. while flying down the river. You also had to refuel along the way. My dad bought the game for himself, but we played it more than he did. I got so good at it that I could even beat people while I played with my feet. (Strange kid, I know).

A few years ago I bought my husband the Atari Flashback Plug and Play. It is similar to the old game system, joysticks and all. It comes preloaded with 40 games, like Centipede, Missile Command, Pitfall, and of course, River Raid. It was a nice blast from the past for us, but the kids thought it was lame. After they left the room, we took turns talking about which level we got to and fighting over who got to pick the next game. It sounded a lot like my son playing video games with his friends.

Last night we went to a birthday party at our friend’s house for their daughter. While the kids played in the basement, the adults played a game called The Game of THINGS. This is a great game for a group. A reader reads the first card which may say “things to make work more exciting” or “things you wouldn’t want to find in your Christmas stocking”. Everyone besides the reader writes their answer on a small piece of paper. The reader than takes those answers and reads them aloud. (We added an extra step where another person writes all the answers down as they are read to remember them better. You don’t want everyone to see the handwriting on the papers.) Now the person to the left of the reader takes the list and tries to guess who said what. For every right guess, you get a point. When someone guesses your answer, you are out.

As you can imagine, the answers can go from clean to well, not as clean. The idea is to throw off the other people so they don’t guess what you said. As I said, it is a great game for a group. We played with both men and women and the guys had as much fun as we did.