Sunday, May 1, 2011

iPhone app: Crosslogic

Platform: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, (requires iOS 4.2 or later)

The official description:

Crosslogic Unlimited, also known as Nonogram or Griddlers are picture logic puzzles in which cells in a grid have to be colored or left blank according to numbers given at the side of the grid to reveal a hidden picture.

In this puzzle type, the numbers measure how many unbroken lines of filled-in squares there are in any given row or column.

- Addictive game play
- Up to 1756 levels of challengable [sic] puzzles
- Hints to help you play
- Easy game controls
- Can play over 300 hours 

Price: Free

The Review:
Disclaimer: I suck at logic puzzles. There. I've admitted it. For all that I am "intelligent," I fully admit that logic puzzles tend to be a genre that eludes me. Whether it's because I'm too impatient, I'm not wired to think that way or I just generally don't find them entertaining, I can't say. Nonograms, however, are about the sole exception to the rule.

I first discovered the genre in the overlooked Picross and Picross 3D games for the Nintendo DS. These are puzzle games where you're given a grid (usually some multiple of 5 x 5) and you're given a series of numbers along the top of side of each colum and row and the idea is to fill in the grids so you get a (generally crude) rendering of some kind of image. The rules are relatively simple to learn and they're a good pick-up-and-go puzzle in the sense that if you have to stop in the middle you can pick up later without much penalty: it's relatively easy to reorient yourself. These kind of puzzles are also especially beginner-friendly in a digital format because if you make an error, games will often alert you so you don't go the entire game based on a faulty move that throws off everything else.

So what about this particular game?

One, total props for all of the content being free. All of it. This isn't a 'lite' app with only a tiny portion of the game play or an app where the bulk of the content is locked-away and only doled out as you met arbitrary goals, everything is available to you from the beginning. This is especially nice for more advanced players who won't find the early puzzles a challenge. Also, speaking of content, there's a ton of it here - we're talking hundreds and hundreds of puzzles. You're not going to run out any time soon, you're getting more content than most paid games provide.

Also on the plus side is the fact that the ads are completely unobtrusive. There's a simple ad bar that lies over the top of the puzzle. This app doesn't make you view ads between games or after every turn or after so many moves. If you see something you like, you can click on it, if you don't, you can ignore it.

Puzzle difficulty is handled well too; earlier puzzles in a set are easier than later sets and you aren't confined to taking the puzzles in order either. Large puzzles, which would be hard to play on this screen are broken down into 4-part puzzles for easier handling, it's an innovative way of dealing with the problem of the smaller screen. The game does not support landscape mode, but fairs pretty well in portrait mode.

On the down side, I do have problems with some of the controls: it can be a bit of a challenge to get a game to start initially if you don't just push the right spot. Also, the game uses an on-screen arrows that are functional, but not the best. It's flat out awkward to use for long streaks and can make longer play sessions uncomfortable. It's also too easy to get an error because you pushed a square you didn't mean to, and it sometimes feel as if the game is jumping around the board without your permission because a stray finger brushed the board. These aren't game-ending errors by any means, but it does cause some legitimate frustration.

Speaking of errors, I understand the limit of 5 errors and your out: it forces you to learn to play the game and not win just on sheer luck. On the other hand, when you only have 5 errors and you lose two or three to accidental presses, it just plain bites to lose the game. I wish you could adjust the number of errors to compensate for this.

Finally, this game isn't necessarily the most newbie-friendly game: it lacks a true tutorial mode. There are some basic instructions, but if you're more a person who appreciates a hands-on tutorial this may not fit the bill and you might want to try and find an online game free to get a feel for it.

Overall though, given the sheer ton of content and the low price, my complaints are few. If you're a fan of logic puzzles or nonograms, this app is a must have. If you're even curious I'd recommend giving it a shot. At free, you've nothing to lose except a few free hours once it sucks you in.

My rating: B

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