With Nintendo’s experience translating pen-and-paper classics Picross and Sudoku to the DS, the release of Crosswords DS was highly anticipated. Those titles appealed to a casual audience, and this title is no exception, wholeheartedly earning the Touch Generations label. The real problems that it faces deal more with experienced crossword enthusiasts.
The letter entry system is fairly problematic. It often misreads Is as Ls, Ks as Hs and Vs as Us, among others. This is understandable, but coupled with the relatively slow process of entering letters, even a smaller puzzle can become a tedious effort.
The most disappointing aspect of Crosswords is the clue writing. Most are just simple definitions, lacking any creativity or challenge, and some even just put blanks inside of larger words. Most people with a serious interest in crosswords come to expect a bit more from clue writing.
The game’s Anagrams mode shows a bit more promise. Though very similar to online addiction TextTwist, it puts the focus on completing the entire set of words, rather than getting the most in a short amount of time. It can be a bit frustrating, but is still a good way to pass the time. This is by far the most addictive mode in the game, and would be a great addition to a different casual title in the future, but it isn’t quite enough to make this one solid on its own.
Word searches are also included. Though there aren’t as many problems with controls, having to scroll the area to see words is infinitely frustrating when words span multiple screens.
For crossword novices and DS neophytes, Crosswords DS has a solid set of help tools. The training mode is clear, simple and comprehensive, and a set of hints and wrong letter notifications are available when a puzzle gets too tough. However, after a few days, even they will be advanced enough to want more of a challenge. Increased difficulty doesn’t really make the game harder, and instead makes it larger and longer.
While Crosswords DS is certainly no substitute for GAMES Magazine or The New York Times Crossword, it may be enough for less intense puzzle-seekers to warrant a purchase.