The New York Times Crosswords

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn, Posted on 2007-06-10


Developer: Budcat Creations Publisher: Majesco
Release Date: May 25, 2007 Also On: None

Since their humble beginnings, video games have been accused of pulling kids, teens, and adults away from their social, educational, and professional lives. It was my goal for years to prove to my elders that it could be beneficial to play video games. Countless Nintendo DS brain and sudoku games have proven that video games could actually serve as food for the brain. Majescoís New York Times Crosswords collection is just another mind-bending game to add to the list, and a rather good one at that.

For $29.99, The New York Times Crosswords offers a collection of over 1,000 puzzles. Although there are crossword puzzle books on sale at grocery stores and gas stations across the country for much cheaper, obviously none of those books are presented in a virtual form. There are three gameplay modes as well as competitive Wi-Fi online multiplayer matches, although Crosswords requires each player to own a copy of the game for those matches. The standard gameplay mode throws puzzles at you that get progressively harder, with Monday being the easiest puzzle, and Sunday being the hardest. At the end of the week, more challenging puzzles are unlocked. There is also a Challenge mode where players can select a day from the get-go, but this mode isnít very much different from the others.

The puzzles themselves are pretty standard, though I felt like the terms being defined were more akin to vocabulary words rather than the typical sounds, fragments, obscure synonyms, and titles found in newspapers and crossword books. This is one of the reasons I felt like Crosswords was so educational; I actually learned a few new words from playing the game. I will admit that I wasnít a fan of multiple-word solutions, but they are few and far between. I actually ran into repeated words, but that was also uncommon. At any time during a difficult puzzle, players can tap a Hint button that will fill in the letter for any spot on the grid. This will negatively affect the grade and score earned, but at least one can get through some of the more difficult selections. For additional help, there is a Notes section for writing down clues and reminders, and any puzzle can be saved and continued at a later time.

It's a small touch, but I was very happy that Majesco's game allows the player to write in the letters for each box. Not to boast, but I have better handwriting than most males my age, so I had no trouble getting Crosswords to recognize which letter I was jotting down. Those with lesser handwriting skills may have more trouble, but other than a few Iís and Uís, the CPU never messed up.

Obviously a game like The New York Times Crosswords wonít have groundbreaking visuals or music, so judging it based upon what it is is the only way to be fair. Itís pretty bare-bones, really; with The New York Times in the title, I expected to see more newspaper-style backgrounds or effects. Instead there are a few multi-colored designs and schemes that palette swap with different difficulties. It would have been neat if there was some sort of inky effect when writing down letters on the touch screen, but visual effects are kept to a minimum. The music is calming, so it (as well as the simple sound effects) doesnít detract from the concentration and thought required to finish a puzzle.

Overall, The New York Times Crosswords is a worthy package for brain game addicts and anyone who likes crossword puzzles. It just may cause your Nintendo DS to replace that magazine stack next to the toilet, if it already hasn't.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.4
Written by Cliff Review Guide

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn