Combo Review: Puzzler World XL and Puzzler World 2012 3D

PuzzlerWorld_Review

If you own a recently manufactured Nintendo portable gaming device (i.e. a DSi or 3DS) and enjoy word/number/picture puzzles, like crosswords, wordsearches, Sudoku, hangman, and spot the difference, there are two new titles to vie for your gaming dollar. Both come from the same Puzzler World brand and the same developer, Ideas Pad, but have different publishers and are available through different channels.

What’s the difference between the two? And which one is the best buy for you? Well, read along, and hopefully I can answer those questions.

From Ubisoft, there’s Puzzler World 2012 3D, a Nintendo 3DS exclusive retail edition, offering more than 1,200 unique puzzles for $19.99. (I think there may be a non-3D DS version as well, but only in Europe from what I can tell.) Then there is Puzzler World XL, a budget-priced DSiWare version available for DSi and 3DS, which stuffs more than 1,800 puzzles into a $4.99 digital download package.

By the numbers, Puzzler World XL clearly has the edge. Obviously the value is stronger when you’re getting hundreds of extra puzzles at a fraction of the price, in addition to multi-platform availability and the convenience of digital download. Looking deeper than sheer quantity, however, reveals that for 3DS owners there is legitimate reason to pay the higher price tag for the retail version.

PWXL_SS01PWXL_SS02

Puzzler World XL has a lot more puzzles sure, but the discrepancy in volume is only there because the game provides a bonus allotment of nearly 600 wordsearch puzzles. When you remove those bonus puzzles, Puzzler World 2012’s puzzle collection is the same size, plus it offers 10 additional puzzle types not found in XL. Puzzles like crosswords, Sudoku, Link-a-Pix, Silhouette, wordsearch, jigsaw picture sliders, hangman and chain letters are shared between the two, but in Puzzler World 2012 you also get spot-the-difference puzzles, spiral crosswords, Pathfinder (wordsearch variant in which you link the words together in a single continuous line), Mix-Up (crosswords with anagrams for clues), and number puzzles like Takegaki and Suko.

To be fair, XL also has a couple exclusive puzzle types, including Picture Quiz, which has you studying a picture and then answering a series of questions from memory, and Hide & Seek, another picture challenge in which you search for certain shapes hidden within an image. But by comparison, Puzzler World 2012 still scores a decisive edge in puzzle variety.

Beyond the varying amount and types of puzzles, the two games are pretty much identical, save for minor alterations in presentation. Both share the same general stylus-based interface and menu structure, along with other features, including a virtual trophy shelf for showcasing in-game achievements you’ve earned and a currency system of hint tokens that allows you to buy hints/cheats to help you clear puzzles that may be posing a mental stumbling block. The only difference is in how you acquire these tokens. In XL, once you’ve completed a puzzle and the subsequently unlocked bonus puzzle, you get to spin a prize wheel to determine how many tokens you’ll bank. Puzzler World 2012 carries on the ‘Price is Right’ game show vibe, but does so with a Plinko-like mini-game in which a ball is launched into a pegged board with holes of different token amounts waiting to catch it at the bottom.

The only other difference is how XL requires the DSi/3DS to be held in vertical book orientation, while Puzzler World 2012 plays with the 3DS held in its normal position. Puzzler World 2012 is also a tad brighter and more vibrant in terms of picture quality, but despite the ‘3D’ tacked onto the end of the title, having the 3D slider on adds absolutely nothing to such graphically simplistic puzzles.

PuzzlerWorld_2012_3D_1PuzzlerWorld_2012_3D_2

My favorite feature in both titles is the handwriting training option. The handwriting recognition can be sketchy with certain letters and numbers (for me 7 and 4 tend to get mixed up, as do P, R, K and D), but to help with this you can actually train the game to recognize your personal handwriting style. With the training menu open, you can select any letter or number you want, and then after writing in that letter/number five times the system saves it for more accurate recognition. The recognition still isn’t always perfect, but it’s far better than other crossword puzzle games I’ve played on the DS family of portables over the years.

If you enjoy the type of puzzles that have traditionally been printed in newspapers, magazines and activity books and normally require a real pen or pencil over a stylus, you really can’t go wrong with either of these games. They are both great for daily brain exercise, and they are indispensable gaming companions to have on hand for road trips or plane rides. But to return to the original question: which one is right for you? Well, if you want cheap and convenient with a beefier supply of wordsearches and other basic puzzle types, go with Puzzler World XL. However, if you want a broader diversity of puzzles to choose from and don’t mind paying a retail premium, I think you’ll be happier with Puzzler World 2012 3D.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Over 1,000 puzzles is a lot, whichever version you choose
+ Handwriting trainer helps clear up most text entry mistakes
+ Puzzler World 2012 3D offers tremendous puzzle variety
+ Puzzler World XL is much cheaper and has hundreds of extra wordsearches

Cons:
– Text entry isn’t always accurate
– Puzzler World 2012 3D has fewer puzzles and is more expensive
– Puzzler World XL has less overall variety

Puzzler World XL Game Info:
Platform: Nintendo DSi and 3DS via DSiWare/eShop
Publisher: UFO Interactive
Developer: Ideas Pad
Release Date: 10/18/2012
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

Puzzler World 2012 3D Game Info:
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ideas Pad
Release Date: 9/25/2012
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!