Basic Crosswording –
As a follow up to 2008’s original Crossword game on DS, Crosswords Plus is basically more of the same. There are hundreds of crossword puzzles each ranging in difficulty from easy to very difficult. Many early puzzles reuse words often; I must have written the word “elf” more times than the Lord of Rings script on these beginning 4×4 puzzles.
In time, a few new modes will become unlocked. Wordsearch is just as fun as they have always been and Anagrams will tease your knowledge of the English language a little more. Word of the Day is Nintendo’s incentive to play this game each day for a few minutes at a time. Unlocking additional puzzles via StreetPass and SpotPass might seem a little inconvenient but will provide a nice surprise for active 3DS users.
The touch screen UI works well and is similar to the previous Crosswords game. Zooming in and out is easily available via a button on the side of the touch screen which allows the user to home in on specific locations throughout the puzzle; this is a handy feature that is essential when completing higher difficult puzzles. The handwriting recognition also works well enough to prevent frustration although I occasionally had trouble with R’s – sometimes it thought it was a “B” and when using lowercase, a letter “n.” But then again, I have some pretty terrible handwriting. It is cool that it detects both upper and lower case though. I just wish the game was smart enough to put the cursor on the next corresponding space automatically without having to tap over; this is most annoying when finishing an area on the boarder of the puzzle. Although not game breaking, it is a little cumbersome.
The game records your fastest completion time but it never presents a sense of urgency, letting you play at your own pace. And since there are no online leaderboard options, the developers simply just wanted players to play a leisure and relaxing game. There are even optional clues to help solve “hey, I am stuck” scenarios but will add a minute of playtime to each puzzle. It is a friendly but balanced risk-reward mechanic. And if you keep the guidance system on, the game will tell you when you are right and wrong. Since there is no penalty for being wrong, or for having the game misinterpret your handwriting, the game’s presentation proves a non-stressful experience. If you want to get your Grandma into games, this is probably the way to do it.
Crosswords Plus is, well, a crossword game so don’t expect much in terms of presentation. The 3D effect doesn’t even do anything and the music is suitable for the 10 minute bursts you will play each session. But my biggest complaint is the lack of a create-a-puzzle mode. Making a custom puzzle, for example, specifically for your family and friends and shared through StreetPass or SpotPass could be interesting. And since this is a Nintendo title, it is a surprise to see a lack of any Nintendo IP. Yup, this is a straightforward crossword puzzle game alright. But you know what, that is perfectly ok. This game is best played when on that boring flight, or the few minutes you have before class, or when players are tired of Brain Age. Available at retail or via download on the eShop, the $30 price tag is a little high though. Even dedicated fans of this age old puzzle game will probably want to wait for a sale or even seek out a cheap used copy of the original DS version instead.
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By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com