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Word Searcher - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Word Searcher

WiiWare | Digital Leisure | 1 Player | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
Related Game: Word Searcher DSiWare (Review)Word Searcher Deluxe (Review)
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer)

25th November 2009; By KnucklesSonic8

If you were to approach a series of newspaper stands at your local grocery store or Wal-Mart, what would you expect to see? Well, of course you'd see an array of magazines, but in a small area you'll also more than likely find a selection of word puzzle books, filled with crosswords, word scramblers and more. Sure, they work well enough in their standard format, but do you ever catch yourself thinking that these activity books could translate well into a game? Digital Leisure seemed to think so and has henceforth provided us with a game entirely centered on word search puzzles all for only 500 Nintendo Points.

    Word Searcher is the first of its kind on the service, containing a good mix of word search puzzles spanning across a total of 100 different categories. Most will find themselves pleased with the categories selected for the game, since they appeal to nearly all knowledge bases and age groups, covering such familar subjects as food and drink, geographical landmarks, animals, musical instruments, and game genres, to name a few. After selecting a topic of your choice, the game begins right away and players must refer to a list of words displayed on the right of the screen as they search through a grid to find the series of hidden words. Words can be found in all directions - diagonally, horizontally, vertically, and even backwards. Players point at the screen to control a cursor in the form of a magnifying glass, and by holding the A Button and dragging said cursor, players are able to highlight a sequence of letters that, when put together in order, will spell out a word. The controls work just fine; sometimes the game will require a little more accuracy than necessary but it's not that big of a deal. And that's pretty much all there is to say as far as gameplay goes, but that shouldn't be a big surprise considering the nature of the game.

That being said, the developers could've spent a little more time in ironing out a couple things that ultimately prevent Word Searcher from being as robust as it should be. For starters, the game could've definitely seen a stronger focus on presentation values. Basic presentation has become a bit of a norm with Digital Leisure and as Texas Hold'em Tournament has shown, that's not necessarily a bad thing so long as the gameplay is intact. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of Word Searcher; the lack of attention towards presentation values stand out even more so than the aforementioned game and this ultimately hampers the experience. Puzzles take place on a terribly-basic green background and this bland style ultimately makes it a bit of an eye-sore for the player. The music itself has a jazzy feel to it and it certainly suits the gameplay nicely, but unfortunately, it's the only music track in the game. For that reason, players will quickly find the music to be very repetitive. Sure, you have the ability to turn off the audio entirely, but this just makes the experience that much more dull, so it would've been nice if there were a few more songs to choose from to prevent this from happening.

Another huge problem with the game is that it almost comes across as a wasted opportunity. Replay value in the game exists entirely from completing all 100 categories and beating your best times. It's great that the puzzles change each time you play (much like Sudoku Challenge) to encourage repeat play but the developers could've definitely done a lot more to motivate players to return to the game, especially since when the luster of going through the categories wears off, there's very little reason for the player to continue playing the game. This could've all been prevented if the developers took the time to go the extra mile, instead of just being content with providing the bare minimum. For example, multiplayer modes would've been a great addition; multiplayer not only would've further taken advantage of the platform's capabilities, but it also would've made for a more complete package. Sadly, this is not the case and it's hard for anyone to deny that the developers could've done better in that regard.

    All in all, if you love word searching puzzles, the game can be relatively enjoyable, but you can't help but criticize Digital Leisure for not taking the initiative to go the extra mile. There's a good chance that Word Searcher will be superceded by a more robust game in the future, leaving you little-to-no reason to return to this basic affair. In fact, if you have a DSi, you might better off waiting for the more portable DSiWare version instead. If you still feel like you'd enjoy Word Searcher despite these points, just be forewarned that the game is about as basic as they come.

16/30 - Below Average

Gameplay 7/10  - Really straight-forward, does little to excite and feels a bit underwhelming, good mix of categories
Presentation 6/10 - Really plain, goes for absolute simplicity, music is good but more tracks would've been nice
Enjoyment 2/5 - Relative to how much you enjoy word puzzles, add a point if you love these kinds of games
Extra Content 1/5 - Didn't go the extra mile to add more content like multiplayer, some appeal in going for high-scores

Equivalent to a score of 53% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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Word Searcher (WiiWare)
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