Review: Puzzler World (Nintendo DS)

PW_DS_L_Packaging copyPuzzler World
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Team 3
Genre: Puzzle/Collection
Release Date: 12/8/2009

I was fooled earlier this year when I volunteered to review Classic Word Games for the DS. Judging by the title, I thought I was in for a fun collection of crosswords, word finds, and maybe a few anagrams here and there. Instead I was given a poor educational game that was never fun and was dumb that it was teaching me l33t speak.

So, when I saw the title of this game, Puzzler World, I was instantly cautious. I looked into it, and it appeared it was in fact a collection of puzzles that you’d find in the newspaper. There were crosswords, word finds, sudoku, and a few others. Still a bit timid, I raised my hand and took the game.

All I could do when I received the game was cross my fingers…

Modes

Of course, there’s no story to the game. This is merely a bunch of puzzles.

First up is Challenge Mode. Here you have a total of over five hundred different puzzles, each with a smaller mini puzzle attached to it for a total of over a thousand different things to do in this mode. You have eight primary puzzles to play with. These are word finds, fill-ins, Sudoku, crosswords, codewords, link-a-pix, spot the difference, and silhouettes. You can play any of the puzzles you want in whatever order you want. The full compliment is unlocked from the start. If you want to do nothing by word finds for a while, you have that option. After you complete a puzzle, you’ll unlock a smaller puzzle to go along with it. These include anagrams, Hangman, fill in the missing piece, memorize facts about a picture, and equations where you need to fill in the mathematical symbols. The big puzzles can go anywhere from two to twenty minutes depending on your skill, while the smaller puzzles are usually about half a minute in length. After you complete any puzzle, you’ll be given hint coins that can be used for any subsequent puzzle. You are given plenty of these throughout the game. This mode will sucks up hours and hours of your time by itself.

pw1If you finish Challenge Mode, or just feel like playing a random puzzle, Quick Play is your other option. You can chose any of the eight primary puzzles, but it will be an easier puzzle than you’re likely to find in Challenge Mode. You have an infinite number of hint coins to use as well, so there is no excuse for not finishing.

Beyond that, the only other interesting mode of note is the ability to get the game used to your handwriting. You can input any number or letter in order to have the game recognize your style better. For instance, I was drawings my C’s a bit weird and the game was reading them as L’s. A few seconds in this mode corrected the problem. I recommend that you do this as soon as you boot up the game, as it will save a lot of frustration, especially in hangman.

There may not be many modes, but the shear number of puzzles on the cart should entertain for a long time. The Challenge Mode keeps track of how many puzzles you’ve completed as well as your best times. If nothing else, its a great mode for a game like this.

Graphics

This is a simple game from top to bottom.

Most everything in the game is either a menu or a standard puzzle setup. There aren’t any fancy borders or the like to worry about either. As far as sudoku fields go, I guess the game does pretty good. The colors are surprisingly vibrant.

When you complete a puzzle, you’ll get to chose a gift which will contain hint coins. The sparkle effect when you make your choice is rather pleasant to look at. The fact that this is major enough to be mentioned tells you how little there is going on with the game.

The coolest effect in the game happens when you’re playing Hangman. The little stick figure will frown in worry when you miss a letter and will let out a sigh of relief when you guess the word. It’s a nice touch.

The only mar is in the link-a-pix sections. There is some yellow lettering that is very hard to read on the DS screen. This is probably something that would be fixed if I turned down the brightness though. Still, it isn’t a problem I’ve had with other games.

That’s all there is to talk about here. Like I said, its not a graphics intensive game.

Audio

Here’s yet another section that doesn’t require much.

There’s barely any music in the game. There’s a few elevator tunes that play during the menus and another that plays during the timed games like the anagrams. For any of the main puzzles, there is no music at all.

The sound effects are there, but it’s mostly just chimes and whistles for when you find a word or the like. The sounds are pretty nice I suppose, but they’re certainly not necessary or useful in anyway.

This is a game where you don’t need to have the sound on.

Gameplay

This is another one of those games that requires you to hold the DS like a book. It does feature an option for lefties as well as righties, so that’s good as well.

pw2The game is entirely stylus controlled. For word finds, you’ll just slide the stylus across the word to mark it much like you would with a pen. For other games, you’ll need to tap the section you want to fill in, and then write the letter or number in a small square in the bottom right of the screen.

The letter recognition is OK, I suppose. It gets a lot better when you customize it to your style. I have had some odd occurrences though. I’ve written an A and had it come back as an X. Basically, it’s about as good as any other game with letter recognition. There are problems, but you can overcome them if you alter your style to what the game wants.

The puzzles themselves play fairly well. Searching for that last word or solving a particularly challenging Sudoku puzzle is very satisfying. It’s not all good though. The fill-ins and crosswords are a bit small for my tastes. In particular, the fill ins suffer greatly. It is just too easy to solve the whole puzzle in a matter of seconds because there’s only one six letter words or something like that. It isn’t very challenging.

There’s another thing about those fill-ins that bother me. Most of the length of these puzzles comes from writing in the words. I really feel there should have been some option for players to drag the word into the correct position with the stylus. That would mean you’re spending less time writing in letters and more time actually solving the puzzle. Also, I got a hand held Sudoku game a while back that let me tap a number with a stylus and then select what square it would go in. This would have worked well for this game as well.

My biggest pet peeve with the game is how the erase feature works. You need to tap the erase button to switch to the eraser. Then you need to tap the section you want to erase. That works fine, but you then have to tap erase again in order to exit erase mode. Then, the selected square will not be the square you just deleted, but the square you had selected before you hit erase. It all seems a bit redundant to me.

The hint feature is well integrated. You can select to spend either five, ten, or twenty hint coins. The more you spend, the better the hint. For instance, in crosswords, you can spend five points to get a free letter of your choice, spend ten points to check for any mistakes, or twenty points to fill in an entire word. There are similar set ups for every puzzle. The game is perhaps a bit too generous with the coins though. There’s no need for you to ever use hints for games like word finds, so you can save them for the tougher challenges. At several points, I was able to complete whole puzzles using nothing but hint coins. A cap on how many hints you could use per puzzle would have been a good idea.

Overall, the game plays good, and has a ton of fun puzzles to solve. There are a few hiccups with the design, but it ends up being pretty good nonetheless. If you’re looking for some good puzzles on the go, this game delivers.

Replayabilty

This game can last you dozens and dozens of hours.

pw3If you average it out to even a mere three minutes per puzzle, the game will last you well upwards of twenty hours. That average doesn’t even work though, as several puzzles can go in excess of ten minutes. Given that there are over a thousand challenges in Challenge Mode and a ton of puzzles in the Quick Play option, this game ends up being far superior to those books you find in convenience stores.

The only thing that bugs me is that you can’t select a degree of difficulty in Quick Play. Otherwise, the game offers plenty of content for a budget title.

Balance

The hint coins make this game a cinch to complete if you use them. A good portion of the puzzles merely require patience to solve, so when you get to actual tough sections, you’ll have plenty of coins to buy hints with.

There are a far greater number of the easier puzzles as well. Word finds and fill-ins account for nearly half of the puzzles in Challenge Mode. The tougher puzzles, such as the crosswords and codewords, are a significantly smaller percentage.

If you’re looking for a tough challenge, avoid using the hints.

Originality

Well, none of the puzzles in this game are new. They’re old as can be.

I personally haven’t played a game with the ability to fit the game to your writing style, so that’s nice.

This is a game for those looking for something fun and familiar, not new.

Addictiveness

Just like when you grab a book full of word finds or get into the daily crossword in the newspaper, you can get severely addicted to a game like this.

I’ve been playing some good games on the DS recently. I’ve also gotten a few new ones over the holiday. However, not even Zelda or Starfy could keep me away from doing just one more Sudoku puzzle. It’s the kind of game you can sink hours into and not realize it, which is essential for a game like this.

Given the amount of puzzles on the game and how addicting they are, this is a game that will probably stay glued into your DS for weeks before you’re done with it.

Appeal Factor

I don’t think there is a person alive who can’t get at least some enjoyment out of solving a puzzle or two every now and then. In that regard, this game has a massive amount of appeal. The fact that it is also a budget title on the most widely owned system on the market doesn’t hurt either.

pw4However, there is no shortage of these types of games on the DS. Also, with the sheer amount of awesome games to come out on the DS in 2009, this game can easily be lost in the shuffle.

Basically, this is the kind of game you’re only going to buy if you’re looking for a puzzle game on the go.

Miscellaneous

Overall, this kind of game is a perfect fit for the DS. Stylus controls are well utilized and it’s certainly more convenient than carrying around a book. You also get a better variety in the types of puzzles you can play.

I would have preferred a few changes to the setup, such as being able to drag words in for fill-ins and adjustable difficulty for Quick Play. But overall, this is a pretty good collection of puzzles for the DS and I’m happy it now sits in my collection.

The Scores

Modes: Good
Graphics: Decent
Audio: Decent
Gameplay: Enjoyable
Replayabilty: Great
Balance: Mediocre
Originality: Worthless
Addictiveness: Incredible
Appeal Factor: Good
Miscellaneous: Enjoyable
Final Score: Above Average Game!

Short Attention Span Summary

diehardjackPuzzler World isn’t going to shatter your perceptions of puzzle games any time soon, nor will it dazzle you with its presentation. Still, this is a pretty decent collection in terms of quantity and quality. If you’re the kind of person who likes the daily puzzle in the newspaper or you’re just looking for a good time killer, this is a game you should definitely take a look at.

Tags: , , ,

No Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *