In the past two years, Sudoku has revolutionized the puzzle industry. But before Sudoku was published in The Times of London in 2004, and soon after began appearing in newspapers and books in the U.S., mainstream America was never so hungry for a logic game. The puzzle, which originated in Japan in 1984 by creator Maki Kaji and his puzzle company Nikoli, has become a widespread trend of today’s popular culture. Whatever the reason for Sudoku’s appeal — it doesn’t require knowledge of vocabulary, or even math — publishers want to expand on the puzzle’s success by bringing a new game to the public.
But will America embrace a new puzzle in the way it did Sudoku? Much of this depends on where Nikoli, which has created a number of subsequent puzzles similar to Sudoku in Japan, will take the trend. While Wayne Gould, a New Zealander who found the game in a Tokyo bookstore, is responsible for making it an international sensation by persuading the London Times to publish it, all eyes are on Kaji and his Japanese puzzle company. In a recent New York Times article on the history behind the Sudoku craze, it was reported that when Kaji visited New York in December, he was bombarded by publishers asking for a new puzzle to start the next big thing for the industry.
The newest craze might be arriving sooner than you think. According to the Times, Kaji is already in negotiations with American publishers to bring several new puzzles to the U.S. — one such possibility is called Slitherlink, a game where lines are connected in shapes around numbers and has already gained popularity in Japan. Sudoku was a stand-alone sensation, a hit that took off with virtually no marketing or grand announcement. Now Kaji wants to promote his newest puzzles in the states in hopes that it will get the same response as Sudoku. Will it work?
Does Sudoku have enough of a lifespan to keep thriving, or will it soon become just another fad of our culture, edged out by the newest puzzle to captivate Americans?