Thursday, January 31, 2013

Crosswords Plus (3DS) Review

Welcome to Thursday night here at SuperPhillip Central. We have reached the end of the month, but before January ends, let's take a look at one more new review. I'm sure this one has kept you up waiting at night for some more people to finally review it. Well wait no longer as here is my review of Crosswords Plus for the Nintendo 3DS.

Crossword to your mother


If you are a wordsmith like I am or a person who enjoys flexing their mental muscle, then you probably love solving word puzzles such as crosswords, word searches (aka seek-and-finds), and anagrams. If not, then this following game will probably not interest you. For the rest of us, Crosswords Plus for the Nintendo 3DS encompasses all of these aforementioned types of word puzzles on one game card. Is Crosswords Plus a better alternative than those ninety-nine cent books you can find at the checkout lane of your local supermarket?

The main attraction to Crosswords Plus is obviously the crossword puzzles, as the title of the game heavily suggests. However, aside from the crosswords there are word searches and anagram puzzles to play as well. The only catch is that these are timed unlocks, meaning you have to wait at least one day (or mess with your 3DS system's internal clock) to unlock word searches, and another day for anagram puzzles.

With these giant puzzles,
 it's either go big or go home.
Crosswords come in various difficulties starting with easy. Each difficulty contains upwards of 200 different crosswords spread across numerous pages. Each page holds twenty puzzles, from simple 4 x 4 sized affairs up to 11 x 11 sized and beyond. Clues on easy mode are far less cryptic than those in later difficulties.

If one does get stuck on a puzzle, whether a clue is too tricky or they simply cannot think of the right letter to place in that last square, they can spend hint points, of which there are a limited amount for each crossword puzzle. Spending one hint point will offer an additional clue, three hint points will reveal an additional letter, and five hint points will simply show the entire word. With using these hint points come time penalties, so using these should be a last resort.

To help out with any challenges beginning players or neophytes of technology might have with playing Crosswords Plus in general are How to Play tutorials which teach the basics of how to control the game. Even still, it is relatively easy to play the game. By selecting a box on the crossword, a player can zoom in and start writing. Depending on whether the horizontal or vertical button is toggled, the game will automatically scroll to the next box as letters are written in. Additionally, players can turn on and off a notification that lets them know when they have written a wrong letter into a box.

On the subject of writing, those familiar with the handwriting recognition techniques of such Nintendo DS titles like those of the Brain Age series will feel right (or is it "write"?) at home with Crosswords Plus. The technology is not perfect, as the game can mistake one letter for another (especially lowercase c's and lowercase e's), but the frustration caused by this is only momentary and does not really affect the enjoyment of the game.

If you have horrible handwriting,
perhaps the recognition will give you problems.
With the grand amount of small to gargantuan-sized 31 x 31 puzzles featured in Crosswords Plus, one would suspect to see a lot of repeated words showing up in the puzzles. Well, that is exactly what happens with the game. There are only so many ways to write clues for the word "sly" before you start getting sick of seeing the word show up. And if I have to see another "ens", "ems", "ess", and other letters spelled out in long form, it will be too soon.

Outside of crosswords in the game there are word searches. There are 160 small puzzles (they fit inside the bottom screen of the 3DS) and 60 large puzzles (where the player needs to use the d-pad or Circle Pad to pan around the puzzle). The words are hidden in each puzzle forwards, backwards, and diagonally, with more words showing up in the larger puzzles. By simply touching the start of a word in the puzzle and dragging the stylus across to its end, that word is considered found and crossed off the list on the top screen.

This is a great game to play for 
minutes at a time to unwind.
The final piece to Crosswords Plus are anagrams. For the uninitiated, these puzzles give the player a series of letters and tasks them with finding all of the words that can be made out of those letters. For instance, the word "prudes" can have the player find "super", "red", "rude", and so forth in it. Coincidentally, those are words that describe yours truly quite well.

The letters spelling out Bowser is
not unintentional.
Some complaints regarding Nintendo's first crossword game, simply titled CrossworDS in North America, was that there was nothing in the way of downloadable content. Nintendo has remedied this with the 3DS sequel, offering weekly crosswords that show up in the bonus section of the crosswords menu. Along with that to keep players coming back for more is the Word of the Day, which brings some more variety to the game.

Some days I feel my brain can 
power an old model PS3.
Another complaint concerning the Nintendo DS original was the lack of much in the way of an impressive presentation. Everything was pretty generic. Unlike the DLC situation, this has not been improved. It is the same vanilla presentation as one would expect for a game dealing with word puzzles. It's a shame that the visuals lack a powerful or interesting punch, but the game is serviceable regardless. Not even the 3D surprised as it is usually turned off until the congratulations screen after each puzzle is completed.

Recommending Crosswords Plus would be absolutely easy at a a twenty dollar price point. It offers a robust array of puzzles that put those aforementioned checkout line puzzle books to shame. However, Crosswords Plus is not twenty dollars. For some reason Nintendo had decided to release the game for thirty bucks. It becomes more challenging to recommend this game for that price. That said, if you can somehow find it cheaper, Crosswords Plus will delight with its large number of available puzzles (with more added each week) and intuitive control scheme.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.0/10]

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