Review: KrissX

KrissX.jpg Crossword puzzles and word jumbles fuse together in KrissX (pronounced “criss-cross”), Konami’s new puzzle game for Xbox Live Arcade and PC/Mac, and Wordsworth the Owl needs you to help him on his un-jumbling adventure!

KrissX’s main quest mode consists of 150 different word puzzles (though technically the mode is endless as it continues generating random puzzles after the 150 mark, and there are special bonus modes to unlock like time attack and so on), the majority of which are a clever hybrid of the two popular word games commonly found in magazines and daily newspapers. Rows and columns are laid out on the screen in the format of a crossword puzzle, only all the blocks are already filled in with letters. However, like a word jumble, all the letters are scrambled out of order, and, using the provided synonym/antonym tip words for each line, you must rearrange the letters to form the correct word and fill in the entire crossword grid.

Other word challenges are also mixed in with the crossword/jumble hybrid puzzles for a little variation, like rearranging a sequence of letters into alphabetical order in a set number of turns or solving a series of word scrambles stacked one on top of the other, and in somewhat of a similar fashion to the sun collecting mechanic in Plants vs. Zombies, different colored tokens fall down the screen as you solve words and with fast reflexes you can collect the tokens before they fall out of view by tapping the corresponding face button for bonus points and to add precious seconds to the time limit.

The objective here is to solve each puzzle as quickly as possible to build up a lofty score total and win special milestone badges, and in large part the game, as unassuming as it may seem, is tremendously addictive. Unfortunately, if you have a high school or college level education you’ll likely be able to breeze through most of the game, with only the occasional obscure word stumping your progression.

Early on, KrissX had me completely hooked, but as I completed around 30 puzzles I found my interest drifting as the difficulty failed to really ratchet up. By the time I reached the 50-puzzle plateau I was pleased to finally see the words getting tougher, but then after maybe another 20-30 puzzles the difficulty pretty much leveled out until I finished all 150. Hell, within half an hour I’d already unlocked 8 of the game’s 12 Achievements – that’s how easy it is!

The most severe problem is the frequency at which words are recycled throughout the game. For the last 50 puzzles or so I’d say I came across at least two words per puzzle that I’d already seen before, and without even looking at the clues I’d have half the puzzle filled in solely based on recycled word recognition. That’s a near-fatal flaw for a puzzle game of this ilk.

But the good news is that, meager difficulty, recycled words and all, KrissX is good, clean word scrambling fun, delivering the instant accessibility and appealing presentation that’s expected of a casual game and that compulsive “just one more game” quality that is so important to a puzzler. However, for such a simplistic game the 800 MS Point asking price is perhaps 400 points too high – at $5 KrissX would be a must-have word puzzler, but at $10 the value proposition isn’t nearly as enticing.

But thankfully there are many ways to play the game for free before deciding if the price is right for you. A demo is available for the Xbox Live Arcade version, and if you are at all interested you might as well click over to the free Flash trial version or the Facebook app and try it out on your PC right now.

TryIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Fun mix of word jumbles and crossword puzzles
+ Can be very addictive
+ Good edutainment game for youngsters and casual players

Cons:
– Too easy
– Too many recycled words
– Overpriced at $10

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on XBLA, also on PC/Mac
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Regolith Games
Release Date: 1/27/2010
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1
Source: Review code 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!