Coffeetime Crosswords Review

For years the Crossword puzzle has found a home in the daily papers, making those train journeys that little bit shorter, with just a pen or pencil and a few clues to help you along. The trouble is, what if you have no pen or pencil, and no train or trip to make? Fear not, as Coffeetime Crosswords is the solution.

With four levels of difficulty (super easy, easy, medium and hard) and as many as a hundred and eighty different puzzles to solve, that sounds like a lot of word game time to enjoy. Except that it’s not and you won’t. The clues are of the thesaurus, rather than the cryptic kind, which is a bit of a shame, but more so, only the odd one is challenging. The arrangement of the grids is such that words overlap all over the place, rather than just the odd letter or two, and so can be completed by answering only half the clues sometimes.

When the letter or word entered is correct, it turns a different colour and locks in. Yes, it’s possible to enter letters randomly and solve the puzzles a single letter at a time, rather than decipher the clues; points aren’t even lost for doing this. Of course it is cheating, and so it’s a player choice, but why highlight individually correct letters if the word doesn’t fit?

Not that these letters are particularly easy to enter; Coffeetime Crosswords has perhaps the worst input interface ever to grace XBLA. Just why did the developers think that an arrangement of two dials of letters, A-M and N-Z, was a good idea? Not only does this take forever to do, but having to swap between them several times a word is irritating to say the least. What was wrong with a normal keyboard arrangement? It is possible to plug in a USB keyboard, which makes things easier, but this isn’t the only problem.

It’s not possible to save a puzzle part way completed, which is very annoying given the music causes a headache pretty quickly (thank goodness for custom soundtracks). There’s no localisation in the game, which means that words are Americanised, and clues are often repeated across puzzles, which is really quite lame; surely there are enough words around to make this unnecessary?

It’s not all bad though; there is a two-player co-op mode so the pain can be shared. There are a number of different backgrounds to choose from, some of which look quite decent, the grids have straight lines both horizontally and vertically and with ninety minutes to solve each puzzle, there’s plenty of time to go to the shops and buy a proper puzzle book, a pen and probably nip to Starbucks for a coffee too.

At 800 points it’s difficult to recommend Coffeetime Crosswords to anyone but the super bored Crossword obsessive, who desperately needs those extra gamer points and achievements.

Marty Greenwell

Marty has been gaming since the heady years of the ZX-81 and still owns most of the gaming systems purchased since those days, including the Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum, SNES, Jaguar, Dreamcast and GameCube. Being a collection junkie (or more accurately, hoarder), he buys more games than he can possibly play, far too many of which are still sealed in their packaging. Marty favours RPGs and Driving games when it comes to genres, and is possibly a little bit too addicted to Disgaea. When not gaming he’s out frightening OAPs on his motorcycle, clad in black leather.

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