The App Spotlight: Quaso

Quaso In our series of interviews so far, we’ve looked at how mobile apps have revolutionized video games and satnavs, but this week, we’re changing tack. Quaso is a popular new puzzle app that’s taken the iPhone by storm – but unlike Cut The Rope, it comes from a handwritten, pencil and paper game.


Thought Sudoku was fiendish? Wait until you try Quaso. The difference is that where Sudoku is merely logic (you could replace numbers with letters and it would still work), Quaso really requires you to use your noggin, and recall all those algebra lessons from long ago.

Created by English school teacher John Enock, it has become a staple of national newspapers, including the Mail on Sunday. Each line in the puzzle is an equation, and each clue must add up to a set target number – but it’s up to you to figure out what all the numbers are.

“It’s a number puzzle thats on a grid,” Enock says. “You've got some target numbers and you have to make a total with the numbers. There are symbols that represent the numbers, but you’ve got to work out what the symbols are…it’s a little bit of logic, a little bit of maths.”

Enock’s background is in pen and paper puzzles, but the game proved such an “analogue” success, that his literacy agency suggested turning it into an iPhone game. With the help of Swedish developer Adduce Studios, John Enock’s Sudoku was released on the iTunes App Store in April 2010, and met with solid reviews.

“I love the design of the app, I was really happy with the graphics and the colour scheme,” says Enock. An iPad app followed, and he says that he is looking into versions for Android and BlackBerry phones.

Puzzle craft versus computer

Sudoku, and other popular Japanese puzzles games such as Kakuro are actually generated by computer, but each Quaso puzzle is hand-crafted by Enock. Like legendary crossword setter Araucaria, he’s a puzzle auteur, and he says that its handwritten origins give it a certain charm a PC couldn’t emulate.

“It’s like a crossword in the sense that I have to think about it,” he says. “I have thought about (computer simulation) but I'm not sure it can be done in the way I'd like it to be done.”

“I don't know if it’s possible to have maths with a certain sense of humour, but you know what I mean – I'm not sure a computer could do it in the same way.” We agree.

What the critics say

“It's fiendishly clever, and it really puts your brain to work…Quaso is a mathematical brain teaser that you shouldn't miss.” Mike Schramm, TUAW

“Quaso is really just about the math. And in that respect, this puzzling app is simply superb.” Bonnie Eisenman, 148apps.com

Like Quaso? You’ll love these…

Sudoku
iPhone, Free
The classic numbers game, presented with incredible polish, and a new point-scoring system that’ll keep you coming back for more.

2 Across
iPhone, £3.99
Pulls in mind-crunching crosswords from newspapers all over the world, including The Guardian and The New York Times.

Blockado Desert
iPhone, £1.49
The traditional block pushing grid puzzle gets a 3D facelift. It’s as charming as it is fiendish.