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Crosswords Ds Review

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Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Nuevo Retro Games / NST

Genre: Puzzle Word Games

Release Date: 05/05/2008

ESRB: Everyone

Are you a crossword fanatic? Do you regularly complete the New York Times crossword puzzle and eagerly await your issue of GAMES Magazine each month? If so, Crosswords DS is not for you. It's a soulless, amateurish collection of puzzles presented in a bland, unentertaining format that somehow manages to lack any of the enjoyment you'd normally associate with crosswords.

Crosswords DS does have one thing going for it: quantity. There are over a thousand puzzles contained within, which you could easily spend weeks completing. It doesn't take long, however, to realize that many (if not all) of the puzzles have been created with the aid of a computer and lack a human touch, leading to a number of problems.

Initially, the game allows you access to hundreds of "Easy" and "Medium" crosswords. A quarter of these are simplistic 4x4 grids, eventually increasing in size (Medium maxes out at 13x13). Filling in the crosswords is done via the DS touch screen; the game rotates like a book to show clues on one side while you fill in the letters on the other (there's a lefty option as well). Most of the time, this works well, except for a few annoying letters like I, L, or G; a straight vertical line always registers as an L, and the only way we could get the game to produce an I was in capital form. Writing a G required something like drawing a spiral that looked like an unfinished 6. It's a pain, but something you learn to deal with after a dozen puzzles or so.

Crosswords DS quickly begins to wear out its welcome with its lame idea of clues. Many are of the fill-in-the-blank-letter variety, which often lead to word fragments instead of proper words ("--- Cee Ar", "She traveled to foreign l---- (places)"). And not only will you see the same words repeated throughout, but you'll often see clues repeated word-for-word, sometimes in consecutive puzzles. Really? No one could think up a second clue for Ohio? The whole thing comes across as lazy and amateurish, and shows how little care went into creating both the puzzles and their presentation.

But the biggest problems with Crosswords DS are its lack of difficulty and the ridiculous lengths required to unlock the higher skill levels. The Easy puzzles are beyond simplistic; Medium puzzles are also a snoozefest, as 4x4 grids rarely take more than a minute to complete, and most others take less than five. But if you want to see what the Hard levels look like, you're out of luck, because you have to complete 100 (!) Medium puzzles first, which is beyond silly.

Of course, the game never tells you this; you'll just have to spend hours completing one lame puzzle after another on the off-chance something better might unlock. Which it doesn't: Once you finally unlock the Hard difficulty, you find more puzzles with the same lame clues and which, for good measure, break the rules of proper crosswords with orphan letters scattered everywhere. Assumedly there's another Expert difficulty that eventually opens up, but really, we couldn't be less interested in seeing it.

There are two other types of puzzles in Crosswords DS, but they're also lousy. There aren't many puzzle styles more boring than the word search, and Crosswords DS manages to make them even worse. The Small grids are way too easy and there's zero satisfaction derived from completing them; Large puzzles only show you a fraction of the grid, forcing you to scroll around, adding some extra annoyance to an already-tedious activity. Then there are the anagrams, which throw six letters at you and ask you to fill in its list of words, but it's anyone's guess what dictionary was used. You're expected to come up with obscure words like "lase" and "aspe," yet simple words like "ale" are beyond the game's grasp. It's tough to botch a simple anagram game, but Crosswords DS pulls it off.

Some people might squeeze a bit of enjoyment out of Crosswords DS, namely people who haven't done many crosswords in their life and just don't know any better. Tweens and crossword newbies might not be completely put off by the simplicity of the Medium puzzles and could find some novelty in the word searches and anagrams, but anyone who actually enjoys doing crosswords should stay far, far away from Crosswords DS. Do yourself a favor and pick up New York Times Crosswords for the DS instead. Because Crosswords DS just.

Source: gamespy

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