Nikoli's Pencil Puzzle



Creative number puzzles offer limited mind-bending fun.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game teaches players to use their mind and, at times, think in outside-the-box ways. It is good, straightforward puzzle-solving, presented in a way that's fun and rewarding for players.

Positive role models

This game focuses on the puzzles rather than an underlying story or character development.

Ease of play

The concepts are easy to grasp, but the design of some of the puzzles make them challenging. Each of the five different puzzles in this game is centered around numbers. There is a Sudoku mini-game along with more obscure puzzles, but none of them requires players to know anything other than basic mathematical skills. For example, one puzzle asks players to draw a rectangle around a bunch of jumbled numbers so that the numbers in the rectangle equal a certain amount.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Nikoli's Pencil Puzzle is a collection of five number-themed puzzle challenges. In addition to Sudoku, there are puzzles that get players to add and subtract numbers in creative and mind-bending ways. The puzzles are designed to hone players' aptitude and critical thinking rather than any knowledge of complex mathematical functions. As such, the game should be accessible to most players with only the most basic math skills, but it can end up being a challenge for any age.

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What's it about?

NIKOLI'S PENCIL PUZZLE is a collection of five number-themed puzzles, ranging from the well-known Sudoku puzzle to more creative, and at times, more challenging exercises like getting from point A to point B down a winding path using a certain number of steps. Although numbers play a key role in every puzzle mini-game, players do not need anything more advanced than a basic understanding of addition and subtraction to understand them. The puzzles are more about testing cognitive thinking, trial-and-error, and logical reasoning skills.

Is it any good?


Nikoli's Pencil Puzzle stands strongly as a fun, creative puzzle game. The puzzles presented to players are not the typical fare, and as such provide a fun and captivating experience to even the most veteran puzzle gamers. That being said, the selection of puzzles is limited and because many of them have specific and distinct solutions, once the puzzles are done, they're done.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the use of math and numbers in this game. When do you use your math skills in real life?

  • Which puzzle is your favorite and why? Which puzzle do you struggle with the most?

  • Does playing math games like this one make learning more fun?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo 3DS
Available online?Not available online
Release date:October 25, 2011
ESRB rating:E for No Descriptors

This review of Nikoli's Pencil Puzzle was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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