The saying about mice and best laid plans apply to this review. I had planned to do a full overview over all the available crossword puzzle games. Sadly only two publishers seemed interested in the idea, 2 Across by Eliza Block and Crosswords by Stand Alone Inc. As 2 Across is in the process of being updated the only premium crossword puzzle game available for review is Crosswords. Thankfully though it is a really good one.
Crosswords takes the ordinary crossword found in newspapers all over the world, and translates it very well to the small screen. The interface is simple, and clean in the black and white associated with crosswords. Controls are entirely done by touch, and you have a keyboard at the bottom of the screen just like when you type your text messages. There are quite a few settings to personalize the interface to your own needs. Double tap to change between horizontal and vertical words. Pinch in and out to zoom in and out.
The game can be played in either portrait or landscape mode. In portrait mode the clues is beneath the keyboard, and in landscape you have it to the left. You can also solve crosswords by only using the clues if that is more to your liking.
There is only a small click when entering letters, other than that the game is silent. You can play your own music while solving puzzles.
You can get hints ranging from a letter in the selected word to the complete word. The game also helps you look up words and clues.
Crosswords offer a lot of customization as well as daily downloadable puzzles. Game life is unlimited, and once you finish a puzzle you get to know your time. Global high scores for each puzzle shows you how well your brain and vocabulary function. Twitter support lets you share your times as well, but I think this might actually turn into spam.
It is hard to rate a game that is in fact an iPhone rendition of one of the most commonly known puzzles in the world. It is a puzzle but as you can choose the difficulty as well as see your time once finished it incorporates enough game elements to be rated as such.
The lack of music is quite ok as there aren’t that many compositions that would be acceptable to listen to for hours upon hours of puzzle solving.
I would like to have something that separated Crosswords from the rest of the crossword puzzle games besides the high level of polish. I am having a hard time figuring out what though, and it is more of a nagging feeling that something is missing. Perhaps some colour options, achievements or whatnot. On the other hand it might be my lack of attention span that makes my brain crave more input than just a clue, and some letters to fill in.
I must say that solving a crossword puzzle in Crosswords feels really rewarding, even though it takes me forever since English isn’t my first language. I hope that more languages might be included in the future, as updates have included puzzles from UK, Australia as well as French paper Le Monde. It would be great to have Swedish as well, but sadly it is not even close to being a world language.
If you are looking for a crossword puzzle game for your iPhone I think Crosswords is the one to get. It loads quickly, plays smoothly and give you new puzzles daily. At ten bucks it is quite expensive compared to what we are used to for the iPhone. I would rather compare it to a crossword puzzle magazine found in the supermarket for ten bucks. That magazine lasts for a week or two whereas Crosswords lasts as long as you keep your iPhone or iPod. A free lite version lets you sample some puzzles as well as the interface.