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Mega Words - DSiWare Review

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Mega Words

DSiWare | Digital Leisure | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 500 Nintendo Points
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29th June 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

It seems like developers are finally catching on that there should be more word puzzlers on DSiWare. Digital Leisure was the one who first set the example by bring Word Searcher to the platform earlier this year. Now, they're returning to the fields with Mega Words, which contains three popular puzzle games. What kind of approach was taken with this release and is it worth anyone's time?

    The entire game is overseen by an old fellow named Professor Lexis. Just like with previous releases from this developer, you can assign up to 4 different profiles. There are three different games to choose from: Scramble, Anagrams, and Hangman. All three can be played using the D-Pad or by dragging and releasing with the stylus. In each game, you have the ability to stop mid-game, save, and return to it at a later point. A word category can be selected prior to commencing, and there's also statistics that measure how well you're doing overall. Now, let's consider each activity one at a time.

    In Scramble, you're given a series of letters that make up a single word, all in a randomized order. You need to place the letters in the correct order on the blank lines below in order to advance to the next stage. All the while, the hourglass in the bottom left-hand corner indicates how much time remains, and the meter on the right shows how close you are to clearing the game.

    Anagrams has you using the letters of a single word to make as many new words as possible. So, for example, let's say you're given the word "Wiiloveit". You'll need to use the letters to make new words such as vow, evil, olive, etc. You'll be awarded points according to the number of letters that are used to make the new word. Once the chalkboard on the top screen is full of words, you'll be able to advance to a new puzzle. The game keeps on going until the timer runs out, or when you decide to quit.

And finally, you have Hangman, a game that's likely not foreign to anyone in this part of the world. You're given a hidden word and you need to use the letters of the alphabet to guess the right letters. Your only real clue is the category from which the puzzle is derived from, indicated on the bottom of the touch screen. As you guess incorrectly, the noose at the top of the screen will get lower. As it does, the Professor will start to get worried, until the point that he looks like he's having a spasm over the imminent doom that awaits him. If you fail to guess the word within a couple tries, a rather-disturbing animation will play showing the Professor getting carried away to his death.

    The controls used to maneuver around menus work just fine, but when you're actually playing the game, they become a bit more finicky. Scramble and Anagrams in particular have you dragging letters to blank lines, and at times, when letters are positioned side-by-side, bringing another one in can produce effects that you don't necessarily want. Sometimes it'll switch out the letter beside it by accident instead of placing it on the blank line, for example. It's too bad the controls weren't executed as well as they should've been.

    I did appreciate the way that the game would offer background information or definitions on some of the words you created. This was great for providing a sort of educational value within the release. And the statistics feature served its purpose in helping to track progress. However, what I found odd was the fact that you don't have the ability to adjust difficulty settings. I found that the time limits were a bit long so to not be able to change meant that I wasn't challenged that much, especially in Anagrams. There are some tricky words here and there, but really, I think the inability to adjust the game to suit your skill level hurts this title.

There's a clear issue with the presentation in this game. The Professor, for one, looks like he was done as a quick draft in Microsoft Paint. In fact, if you look close enough, you can see evidences of compression on the image itself. Audio in the game is plain as well, but there were one or two tracks that somewhat suit what's taking place on-screen. The colour palette used, the backgrounds, even the limited animations of the hourglass timer all come down to simple execution. Simplicity can be used as a strength when it comes to presentation, but that's certainly not the case here. Don't get me wrong, it gets the job done but it hardly seems very appealing for the average gamer. After 5-in-1 Solitaire I honestly expected something of better quality, so in that respect, it seems like the developers went backwards from what they've done in the past.

    Much like Word Searcher, Mega Words offers what it promises to, but with little visual emphasis to make things more palatable. The lack of difficulty options make this game geared mostly for beginners and intermediate players. Experts (like myself), however, won't feel as challenged as they might hope. If you enjoy word puzzles and are looking for something of value, this does a decent job. But once again, the idea that something better will come along is very high.

17/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Finicky controls, some words feature educational definitions, Anagrams is pretty easy
Presentation 5/10 - Really basic, multiple tracks that all sound plain, not as good as 5-in-1 Solitaire, disturbing animation in Hangman
Enjoyment 2/5 - Tries to appeal to multiple audiences, lack of challenge may affect your enjoyment
Extra Content 3/5 - Three different games, ability to save puzzles mid-game, lack of difficulty settings, stat tracking, not much competition

Equivalent to a score of 57% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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