I’m not going to lie, sudoku isn’t my cup of tea. I like watching clever people solve these numbers-based puzzles, sure, but it’s not something I go out of my way to do in my free time. When I stumbled upon an elaborate sudoku puzzle based on The Legend of Zelda, however, I found myself begrudgingly entranced.
The Zelda sudoku, developed by former speedrunner Anees, starts you off in Hyrule Field with the classic 9×9 grid. You must place the digits 1-9 in such a way that each column, row, and 3×3 grid within the larger puzzle does not include repeated numbers. Hyrule Field sticks to these rules but also includes obscured spots that require a special item to reveal. Rocks, for instance, require bombs, echoing their purpose in the real Zelda games. Each of the 3×3 grids you complete nets a randomised item, some of which unlock new dungeons. I soon found myself equipped with a bow and eager to take on the wilds outside the starting puzzle.
It’s here that the Zelda sudoku reveals its brilliance. Each dungeon is its own separate puzzle, with unique rules and obstacles to overcome. After solving a 3×3 grid in Hyrule Field, I found the Nocturne of Shadow, unlocking the Shadow Temple. Here, one of the digits provided as a hint number was fake, and solving the dungeon meant first deciphering which hints were legitimate and which were meant to throw me off. After stumbling through my basic sudoku knowledge a bit longer, I found another song that unlocked Forest Temple, which involved moving the 3×3 grids around the larger puzzle.
That said, I’m not sure if I’m having fun with the Zelda sudoku or am just fascinated by its cleverness. Solving the full puzzle probably isn’t in my future—I only have so much time to stare blankly at tiny boxes—but I can’t help but be impressed by the way Anees has added a layer of Hyrulean adventuring to a series of simple grids. As someone who consumes anything Star Wars-related no matter how terrible or tedious, I’m sure even the most sudoku-averse Zelda fans will find something to enjoy here. And if not, hey, there’s always the lovely folks over at Cracking the Cryptic.