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ColorKu Game Review by Melanie Bunnett

Mad Cave Bird Games, LLC
2003 Argentina Drive, SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506

I'm sure that most families are familiar with the popular Sudoku puzzles. I love Sudoku puzzles for my children because they are challenging, causing them to use logic and deductive reasoning skills which all of us need to exercise for a healthy mind. Needless to say, I was excited to hear about the ColorKu puzzle, which adds a new twist to Sudoku.

The ColorKu game is comprised of a solid wooden puzzle board that measures approximately 13" x 13" and contains 81 grooves. Also part of the puzzle are 81 colorful wooden marbles in nine different shades. In addition, a sturdy clear plastic storage tray with individual recesses for each wooden marble, over 100 playing cards and a solutions booklet are included. The creators of ColorKu have also included a key which allows you to solve any Sudoku puzzle using this board, by converting numbers to colors and back again.

Also available on the ColorKu website are replacement marbles (an entire replacement set is price at $11.75) and three expansion packs of 104 playing cards, priced at $9.95 each. This allows you to continue to update your puzzle, providing extra hours of enjoyment.

To play, you choose one of the playing cards, graded in order of difficulty from easy to extreme. You then flip the game board over, placing the marbles in the storage/playing tray. Following the playing card, you return several colored marbles to the board, corresponding with those shown on the card.

The challenge in completing the puzzle is to place one colored marble in each of the empty indentations on the playing board, being careful to follow the rules of Sudoku. This means that each row can only hold one of each color, each column can only hold one of each color and each grid (a total of nine on the playing board) can only hold one of each color. Using your logic skills, you carefully exclude colors until you are left with only one that can fit in a notch on the playing board.

This puzzle is probably too complex for many younger elementary students, and the marbles can be a bit challenging to work with, but older students (and their parents) love it. My children over the age of 11 have all used this board many times, as have several of their friends. Even my husband and I have tackled the challenge of completing several of the puzzles, finding it quite difficult but addictive at the same time.

One aspect of this puzzle that makes it more versatile than conventional Sudoku is the fact that because colors are being used instead of numbers, the playing board can be viewed from any angle. This allows a number of people to work on a puzzle at the same time, meaning that this is a great activity to bring a family together. This is a nice change from the traditional board game or jigsaw puzzle.

ColorKu is priced at $29.95 and is available online as well as at many educational and toy stores. This is certainly a reasonable price for such a well made, fun yet educational addition to my family's homeschool. I would encourage anyone who is looking for something new to add to their family night to investigate ColorKu.

Product review by: Melanie Bunnett, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August, 2008