Luke Mitchell
16 Nov, 2007

XBLA Word Puzzle Review

360 Review | We are still searching for something good...
The classic puzzles printed in newspapers and magazines have always been popular. Crosswords and more recently Sudoku are very addictive for many people, and so it was only a matter of time before things like this were translated to casual videogames. Word Puzzle is here to fill this void on XBLA, and it’s… well, it’s a bunch of word-searches. Word Puzzle brings word-searches onto your 360 and into your living room, adds some extra elements to keep it interesting and even includes competitive play online.

For those unfamiliar, a word-search involves a big grid filled with letters, and within those letters, you have to find the words on the list, either vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Normally you would circle the words with a pen as you find them, while in Word Puzzle, you simply select the first letter and the last letter, and then the game fills in the rest. It makes it simple to use at least, and saves having to select each letter individually.

Search for words!

Search for words!
The game seems to be very arcade focused, as instead of just giving you a grid to search, it also highlights either the first or last letter of a word, and then tells you which word on the list it is. This is both good and bad – the good thing is that it makes finding words much easier, and in the later more complicated grids, it really is a savior. The bad thing here is that a lot of the accomplishment taking out of completing word-searches in the first place is lost, as the game is essentially giving you constant hints at what to find next.

There are three modes of play in Word Puzzle; arcade mode, survival mode and free play mode. All of them revolve around finding words in slightly different ways. In arcade mode you start with the simple puzzles that gradually get harder as you earn combos for finding words. Not only does it get harder in terms of how they’re hidden, but it will also add different types of searches, such as a pyramid or a cube that you must rotate to find the words you’re looking for.

Survival mode shows a map of you traveling from continent to continent, and finding words as you go. There is a time limit here and it is a little bit more difficult than the arcade mode, but it’s still very similar and feels a bit tacked on. There are also word bombs in this mode, which will explode if you take too long searching for a particular word. It adds a bit more tension to the game, but given Word Puzzle’s easy difficulty, the game is never so stressful that you may actually think you will lose.

Search for more words!

Search for more words!
If you decide that competitive play is more your thing, then you can jump onto Xbox Live and play against your friends. It’s essentially the same as the arcade mode, except when you find the highlighted words, you can set bombs on your opponent. Much like the rest of the game, it’s very simplistic, but at least it’s something extra to do once you tire of searching for words by yourself.

When it comes down to it, the question really is whether or not a bunch of word-searches is worth spending 800 Microsoft Points on. The answer is a big echoing no, as it’s simply impossible to recommend this over a book of word-search puzzles from your local newsagency that is probably cheaper and will last you a lot longer. The gameplay is repetitive, searching for words is more a robotic task than a rewarding one, and there simply aren’t enough interesting game modes to keep you entertained for very long. For 800 points, you could do much, much better on XBLA.
The Score
Word Puzzle isn't a terrible game, and at 400 points it might have been OK. At 800 points though, it's basically a rip-off, and word-searches have been done much better before. 5
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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