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Crickler Crosswords App

Crickler

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

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crickler screen shot

Crickler Layout

Category: Mobile Puzzle Games
Developer: Michael and Barbara Crick
Rated: 3
Requirements: Compatible with iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad

 

Bottom Line

The game transitions well to the small screen of an iPhone or iPod and the interface is responsive and easy to play. Good play value and definitely a nice time waster when waiting for your subway stop. Free to download and begin playing with additional puzzle packs available for purchase. However, compared to a crossword puzzle it lacks the enticing beauty of the symmetrically black-boxed grid just waiting for those lovely solution words to slip neatly into place.

Totally re-invent the crossword puzzle

I downloaded the Crickler word game app and took it for a test drive. The game developers, Barbara and Michael Crick claim in their promo blurb: "We set out to totally re-invent the crossword puzzle for the computer age." Well, that definitely got me interested but upon opening the game I saw little similarity between it and a crossword puzzle. (see screen shot) There was no grid, no black squares and no numbered across and down clues. Instead, just clues and answer boxes in a list format. That's certainly a departure from a standard crossword puzzle but is it a 're-invented crossword puzzle'? More of a word game loosely based on one aspect of a crossword puzzle, a reconfigured layout of clues and answers.

Traditional crosswords have serious drawbacks

crickler screen shot

Crickler Menu

The developers also state: "Traditional crossword puzzles ... have several serious drawbacks:
  • (1) They are difficult to construct
  • (2) Most words are short and often silly -- chosen only because they fit
  • (3) Matching clues to numbers is a distraction
  • (4) A given puzzle is usually either too easy or too hard
I'd like to address each of those four "drawbacks".

(1) They are difficult to construct.
Correct! And perhaps it may come as a surprise to many solvers but the easiest crossword puzzles are the most difficult to construct. However, I don't consider this a drawback. Anything worthwhile will take some effort to create. A good puzzle with lively fill and a clever theme provides a lot of entertainment and a sense of accomplisment when solved.

(2) Most words are short and often silly -- chosen only because they fit.
Wrong! A quality crossword puzzle has strict limits on the number of three-letter words allowed (as well as the number of black squares). Generally, the 'mean word length' is over five letters and theme entries are often 10-15 letters!

If by "silly" you mean crosswordese, even that is kept to a minimum and only tolerated in puzzles with enough pizazz to offset the dross.

As for, "chosen only because they fit" - that is utter nonsense, you silly goose. Essentially,ALL words in a crossword puzzle are chosen because they fit.

(3) Matching clues to numbers is a distraction.
Really? You need some way to indicate where to enter clue answers into the grid. Definitely not a deal breaker for me.

(4) A given puzzle is usually either too easy or too hard.
Hmm... There are puzzles of every difficulty level on the market. Just choose according to your ability and adjust as your solving prowess improves.

Trivializing the bad news

My main quibble is with games which draw words directly from current news stories. Most, if not all, crossword editors reject any puzzles that contain references to disease, death, war, toilet topics or other negative or distasteful subject matter.

However, the Crickler word games which take answers directly from the latest news stories have no such filters. For example, a fill-in-the-blank clue reads as follows (in reference to an oil refinery blast in Venezuela): "President Chavez surveyed the __ caused by the blast." The answer word is CARNAGE.

or, "Haitians were __ by tropical storm Isaac and the homeless were particularly __ ." INUNDATED and VULNERABLE are the respective answers.

I just feel it would be better to stick to human interest or political stories when generating these puzzles. Do we want to amuse ourselves with answers like CARNAGE, AMPUTATION, or SUICIDE? Are we not trivializing these very tragic events which severely impact real people in violent and horrific ways?

Is it worth it?

The game transitions well to the small screen of an iPhone or iPod and the interface is responsive and easy to play. Definitely a nice time waster when waiting for your subway stop but as far as reinventing the crossword puzzle, that's a stretch. For a crossword fan such as myself, it lacks that enticing beauty of the symetrically black-boxed crossword grid just waiting for its lovely solution words to slip neatly into place.

Which Puzzle Apps Would You Recommend

Do you know of a puzzle app that merits a mention here at About Puzzles? What's Your Favorite Puzzle App?
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