The New York Times Crosswords Review
I need to begin this review by stating that I am assuming that you are interested in videogame crossword puzzles. There’s not really much here that you can’t get by buying a crossword puzzle book at a newsstand, so if you’re the pen (or pencil) and paper type of puzzler you may as well stick with what you already know and love. Don’t get me wrong, New York Times Crosswords for the DS is not a bad game at all and I had quite a bit of fun with it while testing it for this review. The question that you need to ask yourself is that when the mood to a do crossword puzzle strikes you, would you prefer to grab a book or power-up your DS?
If you’re open to electronic crosswords then you’ll find that New York Times Crosswords (NYTC) delivers a thousand puzzles drawn from the famous paper. For those of you who don’t know, the difficulty of a New York Times crossword puzzle determines the day of the week on which it will be published. The easiest puzzles are published on Mondays and the puzzles become progressively harder during the week, culminating in the deviously challenging Sunday puzzle. NYTC uses the same system to rank the puzzles’ difficulty levels and its puzzles are roughly evenly distributed across the seven levels. Now “difficulty” is a relative term, and nowhere is it more relative than it is when you’re discussing New York Times puzzles. Monday and Tuesday puzzles will provide plenty of challenge to novice puzzlers, and younger gamers may find that even these puzzles are too difficult and frustrating.
The game can be played in a weekly mode in which you must work your way through a series of puzzles from Monday to Sunday or you can choose to do a random puzzle. Unfortunately there is no way to select the day of the random puzzle, so you may have to enter and exit this mode a few times until you find the day that you’re looking for.
When playing a crossword, the game uses the touchscreen to display the puzzle grid and the upper screen to display the clues. You navigate the puzzle using the d-pad and the top screen will automatically display the appropriate clue for the screen that you’re on – you can flip between across and down clues with the d-pad as well. Words are entered a letter at a time by drawing the letter into a square on the touchpad or alternately by tapping the letters out on an optional keyboard overlay. The handwriting recognition works pretty well, although it seems to consistently have issues with the letter “E”. The game also supports three zoon levels on the puzzle, so you can take it all in or concentrate on a particular corner of the puzzle. The game’s interface works pretty well, but my main complaint is that you can only look at one clue at a time and you need to scroll through the puzzle squares to look at each one. I always do crosswords by first scanning all of the clues and writing in the ones that I can figure out right away, and then going back to fill in the gaps. This process is more time-consuming in NYTC than it is with an actual paper crossword.
If you’re the type who likes to know how well you’re doing at the puzzles, the game will time you on each one. If you get stuck you can even ask the game to reveal the correct letter in any grid in the puzzle. When you complete the puzzle it will first check your answers, highlighting any incorrect letters. Once everything is correct, you’ll be scored based on the difficulty, the time it took you to complete the puzzle, and the number of hints that you used.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 80%. If you don’t mind the fact that the game costs more than a book of crossword puzzles that you can pick up at a newsstand, you’ll find yourself enjoying this electronic version of the New York Times’ signature puzzle.