Capcom releases its first Xbox Windows Phone game: KenKen

We may not have received an Xbox Windows Phone release last week, but thankfully the drought did not continue this week. What’s more, the latest release is either both good news and bad news, or just plain good news, depending on how you look at it. The very good news: console and arcade giant Capcom is now making Windows Phone games. The kinda-sorta bad news: it’s a somewhat expensive puzzle game. Still, fans of brain puzzles will absolutely eat up KenKen (akso known as KenKen Pro).


KenKen Difficulty

You could be forgiven for not recognizing the game of KenKen. It’s actually quite a popular puzzle in newspapers and such (regularly appearing in The New York Times), much like Sudoku and the word jumble. The Sudoku reference is apt in more ways than one. KenKen too comes from Japan, and even shares some of the rules of Sudoku. I’d call it a cross between Sudoku and the age-old sport/punishment of math.

KenKen puzzles consist of grids spanning 3 x 3 squares all the way up to 9 x 9, the standard Sudoku grid size. Like that popular game, the goal is to fill in all the squares on the grid with a number. A number cannot appear twice in the same row or column. But unlike Sudoku, all the squares start out blank. Groups of squares do have little math statements in them, though. For instance, all the numbers in a group may need to add up to 5 or be multiplied to reach 24.

It sounds complicated and takes a little while to learn, but the game includes both a detailed help text and a video starring a geeky guy named Will Shortz, the NY Times Columnist and NPR contributor. We’ve embedded said video in this post so you can get an idea of the gameplay. Honestly, after about four games the easy puzzles became second nature to me, and I can now make satisfying goes at the harder ones.


KenKen cost $4.99, which some people will deem an exorbitant price for a puzzle game free of bling, exploding zombies, or blinged-out exploding zombies. But there are multiple factors to consider beyond the appropriately simplistic presentation. First off, Capcom is one of those large Japanese publishers that balks at lowball mobile pricing trends and keeps their prices higher than average. We’ve seen the same thing before with Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy and CAVE’s Dodonpachi Maximum. And indeed, the iOS version of KenKen costs $4.99, so our version doesn’t suffer from an Achievement tax.

Now, I’ve only played the game for an hour or so and this isn’t review. But I think you can also make a good argument that KenKen represents a fair value from the sheer amount of content it contains. Each of the seven grid sizes contains multiple difficulties and both signed and unsigned (less detailed clues)  puzzles. And those categories have tons of puzzles within. It will take numerous hours to finish this title without cheating, and people who like logic puzzles will have a blast getting there. People who value every mobile game at $1 or don’t like this style of game just won’t get it.

KenKen runs great on WP7 and WP8. Get it here on the Windows Phone Store (not available in Brazil or Korea).

QR: KenKen

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • numbers are evil... (says the art major) ^_~ but good seeing a new game on WP8... now if only capcom would give us a megaman, preferrably without those dreadful virtual D-pads. 
  • I can't imagine many people buying this for $5.. I know I won't
  • Crap
  • To rich for my blood, lol!
  •  Contra $0.99; hopefully, KenKen will drop in price, but at least we get to 'try' it :)
  • Omg contre (its contre btw) jour is a beautiful game entertaining and the soundtrack is so soothing lol
  • Indeed. Its one of my favs along with cut the rope
  • "First off, Capcom is one of those large Japanese publishers that balks at lowball mobile pricing trends and keeps their prices higher than average. We’ve seen the same thing before with Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy and CAVE’s Dodonpachi Maximum."
    You're not wrong, but that doesn't make those Japanese publishers right either.  I think it will sell extremely poorly at that price point, espeically considering we already have a Sudoku game for free, simplistic as it might be.  
    It's still encouraging to see Capcom releasing games on WP.
  • Speaking of final fantasy if it goes down for Christmas im gonna buy it
  • At least with CAVE and Squenix we get hours and hours of immersive replay value and a well put together game. Someone could create an app for this in a matter of a few hours if it was anything that was really sought after.
  • This game offers quite a lot of replay value as well (far more than Dodonpachi for me). Just because a game doesn't cost a lot to make, that doesn't mean it doesn't offer significant potential for enjoyment. Someone could whip up a KenKen engine in a hurry, but it wouldn't be nearly as polished at this one. Just compare this KenKen to babaroga's Sudoku and you'll see what a difference a well-designed interface and assortment of puzzles makes.
  • The UI reeks of something that was targeted at iOS originally.
  • True, but it's not a bad UI at all (other than the puzzle selection interface, which I'll criticize a bit in my review).
  • Well, i may actually pick this up. Sure it's expensive, but it's not going to break the bank. I like KenKen puzzles anyway so all good there. Mainly I want to buy it in the hopes that if Capcom see decent sales for KenKen they will consider the financial viability of porting Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken as well! Now that would be a bonus!
  • No excuse for prices like that anymore
  • If you think about it, $5 isn't expensive for a game that will entertain you for hours and hours. We've just been conditioned to be cheap bastards because of low balled games and ad-supported ones.
  • Exactly. Production values aren't the only factor to consider when deciding whether to buy a game or not. The amount of enjoyment you'd get from it is much more important. But I don't think too many mobile gamers feel that way.
  • No gratuitous violence? Explosions? Boobs? What kind of crazy game is this?
  • $5 ? WOW
  • Omg, a kenken app? So down for it if the ui is good enough. I loved kenken a while back, but it was never as popular as sudoku, so it was harder to find
  • Paul, loved you said that this game isn't available here in Brazil!! Haha
    The great majority of the windows phone games isn't available here. For the record, only 67 Xbox WP is available in the Brazilian Store. Sad, but is the true.
  • $5 was a little pricey for me to begin with. I got the trial and it seems way too hard for me. I thought Sudoku was hard but this seems worse. Also the achievements are really annoying and require you to beat puzzles in the game on every possible difficulty. Looking at the selection. It appears that means playing anywhere between 500 and 1000 puzzles. Even using a solver that would take ages. Pass for me. The puzzle choosing screen is also a joke. Did they even test it. The sensitivity is like zero. You have to dig into your phone screen to get it to move. And half the time while doing so you select a puzzle you didnt want in the firs tplace.
  • About the time requirements, if someone was to document every solution, you could probably input all the answers in much less than 10 hours. Maybe I'll create a solution guide after I beat the game. I've knocked out the 3 x 3 puzzles, but the rest will certainly take a while.
  • oh that is a good point. are the puzzles not randomly generated? if someone really wants to make a guide that contains 980 solutions they can I guess. That would be insane just to even created or think about.  if that day comes I may purcahse. Likely wont be any time soon.
  • Seems its not available in the netherlands either.. Or atleast not on the wp8 store here.. I even get an error scrolling to the comments section and bounces me back.. -_-
  • Not available in AUS marketplace yet. Nokia Lumia 920
  • Love puzzle games with cheevos.  Wish there was more of them. 
    I had a problem though purchasing the game on my 920.  I "tried" the game first and then when I tried to purchase it, the App Store said it wasn't available for my device.  I had to uninstall the game and then navigate back to it in the store and choose "buy".  Now it works fine. 
  • Are you sure it's compatible with WP8? When I target my 8X I get the message, "Your version of the Windows Phone software is not supported by this application." when I target my old HTC Trophy it lets me buy it.
    I love Ken Ken but $5.50 AU is a bit pricey for an app which doesn't take Windows Phone design into consideration. I know games give you more freedom to depart from that phone's design principals but, it almost seems like they saw the design guidelines and said, "Stuff that, we're doing the opposite". Unneeded gradients is the obvious one.
  • That's odd. I had no trouble acquiring it on my Lumia 920 this morning.
  • Hmm, looks interesting.  I don't really have the space for another game right now, but I'll least check out the demo.
  • Can't install on my Lumia 920 in Canada.  Says it's not available for my device.  Probably requires the latest update to install.  Sigh!
    Anyone here with the BUILD Devkit version of the phone see the OTA update on their phones?  I've yet to see it on mine.
  • Hey, if they support my WP7, I'll support their sales. Heck yeah!
  • yeah i cant download this app. its not availble for wp8 and im in the US
  • I saw it in the Store this morning on my Nokia 822, but now it says it's not available for my device.
  • It reminds me of a game i saw long time ago. Search for Caged Math, it is free.