USA Today Crossword Challenge

for Nintendo DS

Hm…I like the book-like feel of the Nintendo DS. That mixed with my like for crosswords made the pick of USA Today Crossword Challenge a no-brainer. How bad can a “game” be when all you have to do is figure out words with letters in various positions? Ya….right..

This game I got for myself. I like crosswords, and I looked forward to getting into this one. I popped the game into the DS and started.

First thing I noticed was the language choice, English and Spanish, neat feature. My Spanish being rocky I stuck with English. I was jazzed about the fact that there were 300 puzzles available to me. Not as many as Crosswords DS but I expected the quality to be significantly better.


I was not disappointed about the challenge of the puzzles. While the clues indicated a certain age attributed to them they were still varied enough to make the few era specific clues not an issue, although I had no idea Ish Ka Bibble was real, let alone a cornet playing comic, but I digress.

For those hard-core competitive crossword folks, you’ll be glad to know there is a timer that keeps you in check, but for the time conscious be warned, for wrong answers you are penalized a few seconds, that includes typos, and flubs.

At this point I should mention that I don’t read the manual that accompanies the game. I am just too….I guess the phrase I am looking for is “set in my ways”. Had I read the manual I would have learned using the Pen icon to enter letters is what counts towards completing the puzzle. The Pencil icon allows for entering and erasing although the erasing feature works for Pen as well. Maybe the timer is affected. I never paid attention to it and never cared. Time? On a crossword? There’s no money on it so it don’t matter to me.

First off…. The character recognition is not the best as far as I have experienced, perhaps I just don’t know how to write…hmm…..didn’t take that into account. Of course I am talking about the actual ability to write. Writing as in grammar and sentences, I am aware of my failings….no need to point that out…. Thank you very much.

At the very least I figured out tapping the keyboard icon let me avoid the character recognition but then I ran into the vertical/horizontal input scheme. Luckily there is an eraser icon which let me take out some errors, however, that didn’t come into play until I learned that the game freezes on inputting after a period of time. I still haven’t figured out if it’s interlocked with the timer or with the number of errors. Not that it matters. I just saved progress. Shut down the game and resumed game afterwards.

For the most part, it delivers on what you are looking for in a crossword but there are too many quirks and misgivings on the game to make it a hands on favorite for me.

Difficulty, I can deal with. Antiquated clues, I can deal with. But the shaky character recognition, constant monitoring on the horizontal and the vertical inputs and freezing during gameplay? While it may not bother the competitive crossworders, it does make a game unpleasant for the casual player, like me.





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