i’m not a huge fan of crossword puzzles, but nintendo fanboy i thought that i am i would try out nintendo’s digital version for DS, called crossworDS (aka crosswords DS). the game actually includes three different types of pen-and-paper games, the eponymous crosswords, as well as word searches and anagrams. the crosswords seemed skewed to younger players and were fairly mindless (although not as mindless as the word searches): these are definitely not new york times level puzzles. granted, for you can only play the “hard” crosswords after completing all the medium level ones (a drawback itself), but it seems the difficulty levels have more to do with the size of the puzzles rather than the difficulty of the clues. navigation is similar to the brain age sudoku games, so no major complaints there. the presentation is clean but devoid of personality, but, again, a flashy presentation is definitely not needed so there were no major complaints there.
but the real highlight of the game is the anagrams. i was somewhat addicted to the facebook version of boggle a few years ago, but the anagrams in this game provide several improvements that made it much more satisfying. in both games you’re tasked with creating words from a set of letters, but in this game the goal is to find every possible anagram given a set of letters instead of the most words within a certain amount of time. so as a single player experience it’s nice to not have to think about scores, which are irrelevant anyway since every set of letters will have a different number of possible words. the game provides a sort of built-in hint system by grouping all the words by the number of letters and alphabetically, so it provides just the right amount of help in trying to figure out the last few words you’re missing since you can always resort to brute force if necessary. lastly, although the game suffers a bit from having to avoid common but potentially objectionable words such as “ale” (presumably in order to achieve its E rating), i really appreciated that it generally completely avoids including obscure scrabble dictionary only words, like “ain” (an alternate spelling of a hebrew letter). the inclusion of completely obscure words in games like scrabble and scramble were always a big deterrent for me since i had no interest in learning them just to do well in the game, and excluding them in this game makes it much more enjoyable. (the one exception in this game is “ade”, which may have been an oversight because it isn’t in any reliable resource i’ve found, aside from as a suffix referring to a fruit drink, such as lemonade.)
anyway, the anagrams mode is what really made this game worthwhile for me, and in fact is one of the few games that my boyfriend got into as well. that mode alone makes this a game that i’ll come back to repeatedly. a version for the 3DS, called crosswords plus was released last year to little fanfare: it looks to be pretty much identical to this version, so i probably won’t be checking that out any time soon.
unscramble these crosswords DS links:
– details on the unlockables and medals you can earn, at gamefaqs
– review at joystiq.com
– entry at wikipedia. apparently the anagrams have a limit of 583 puzzles.