The ILG Coint & Plick Awards

Coint & Plick 2009 #52a: Big Word Puzzle Book

Posted in 2009 by trdn89 on February 12, 2010

(2-way tie for #52)

15 points, 2 votes

Official Game Site

Forksclovetofu: This game is as good an argument for importing/R4 for US DS players as you’re likely to find. It’s also woefully under served on the web; even Metacritic doesn’t list it. So here’s the skinny: BWPB is eight word games bundled in a fairly simple but spectacularly effective package. There’s hangman, find-a-word, several variations on coded crossword puzzles, a solitaire game that’s a lot like Wordjong and the game’s true killer app: “guess what word the DS is thinking of” which I’ll talk about more in a second.
There’s running statistics to show how well you’ve done on each of the game’s four difficulty levels (expert is a bitch almost every time) and when you beat a game, you get a hint chit that can be used to get an in-game clue. Every win also scrolls through a list of the game’s dictionary words, reeling the entire English language backwards from Z to A. I’m on “wrangles” now; the game offers multiple saves so that multiple users can compete for most playtime wins.
Back to “guess the word” here: you touch type in a word, any English language word. The game pushes the word to the top of the screen (signifying that the word the DS is guessing is alphabetically following the word you’ve typed) or to the bottom (the word the DS is guessing falls alphabetically before). The next word gives you a proscribed range. So let’s say you start with “manic” and follow up with “zygote”. Okay, now you know the word falls alphabetically between “MA” and “ZY”. “Rabbit”? Okay, between “manic” and “rabbit”. And so on. The goal is to guess in as few tries as possible, but more often you’ll be happy just to figure out the secret. As origin, origins, originally, originator, originate, originates, origination and so forth are all read as different words, the endgame can be maddening… but the sense of accomplishment is great when you nail it.
On separate occasions, I played BWPB with small children on easy, my girlfriend’s seventy-year old parents, through a three hour plane trip, at dinner parties and in the hospital. It’s the perfect swiss army knife of a time waster for groups or for single play. It’s nothing spectacular but it the few things it does, it does incredibly well.

Jamescobo: Aside from all the massively OTM points Forks raises about BWPB’s invisibility online (and seriously, how did this magnificent minor classic of impeccably-mannered casual gaming not get the Eurogamer treatment like Slitherlink/Rittai Picross/Pic Pic?), the thing most worth mentioning about this game is that it’s probably going to be one of the last of its kind. Quiet little casual game compilations like these are rapidly moving towards selling their component parts digitally (q.v. the DSiWare & App Store libraries), which is unfortunate since the best examples of the genre – a category which most emphatically includes BWPB – are usually defined by the degree to which the developer goes overboard trying to justify a retail price point. I mean, the amount of content in BWPB is just absurd; I’ve had this game for at least half a year now and I’m not sure whether I’ve made it out of the “W” section yet. As convenient as it is to have eminently pick-up-and-play-able games readily accessible at a moment’s notice, I’d much rather have more content any day of the week.

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