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Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.2    RAM: 64 MB

Infinite Crosswords
June 5, 2007 | Charlie Fletcher

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Puzzle in Progress
Playing crossword puzzles has long been known to be addictive, and uclick’s Infinite Crosswords will only deepen and expand the fun of that obsession.

I’ve always found crossword puzzles to be a bit intimidating, and Infinite Crosswords has changed that for me — and several of my young children. The game’s inviting interface and hinting system makes it an ideal place for crossword novices to gain skill. Yet its plethora of puzzles to solve and variable skill levels make it just as much fun for the expert.

When I was growing up, I often sat fascinated watching my father rapidly solving the New York Times crossword puzzles, usually without the help of a dictionary. Once he was done with it, he’d move on to still more difficult cryptograms and other such indecipherables. It was all quite beyond my understanding, and I suspect his love for these pastimes grew out of the times in which he grew up. Born in 1909, he was an adult during World War II, and that was not only a time of intense interest in wartime cryptography but also the time when crossword puzzles became extremely popular.

According to Wikipedia’s article about crossword puzzles, the first crossword puzzle was created by Arthur Wynne, a journalist in Liverpool, England, and published on Dec. 21, 1913, by the New York World newspaper. The paper went on to publish puzzles every day — until it closed its doors in 1931. Nevertheless, many other newspapers picked up the idea, and today crossword puzzles are featured in newspapers and magazines around the world and also in many places on the Web.

A crossword puzzle is typically a square grid of black and white squares. The idea is to correctly fill the white squares with the answers to the clues given alongside the puzzle. There are clues for both the horizontal and vertical words, and the words frequently intersect at many points, which increases the difficulty of the solution.

One important point to keep in mind is that crossword answers always agree with their clues in tense and number. So, where a clue might by “Roman statesman,” the answer could be CATO. However, the clue, “rice field drudges,” is answered by OXEN. Note that in the second example both the clue and answer are plural.

Considering the plethora of crossword puzzles that are available in print and online, one would wonder why it would be advantageous to purchase a crossword computer game. In addition to the convenience of consistent keyboard shortcuts and help for the novice, there are some other interesting advantages to consider. Typical crossword books containing 50 puzzles cost about $10. Infinite Crosswords has over 100 puzzles and a hinting system that serves as a crossword dictionary for about $20. The puzzles come from multiple sources, including USA Today, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post. Moreover, if you happen to take your computer with you when you travel, you can have your crosswords right there too, and access them without an Internet connection. In addition, with a digital crossword puzzle, you will never have to worry about wearing through the paper when you erase your mistakes.

Now you may have noticed that the game is called Infinite Crosswords, however it does not actually come with an infinite number of puzzles. If you will overlook the fact that an infinite number of puzzles cannot really exist, I’ll explain the reason behind the name. In addition to the 100 or so puzzles that come with the game, a built-in puzzle store allows you to purchase additional sets to add to your collection. Currently three are for sale: two with 60 puzzles each selling for about $10 a unit, and a third one with 100 puzzles for about $15.

The game also comes with an intuitive set of keyboard shortcuts that are easy to master. For me, this increased my enjoyment of the puzzles because I didn’t have to shift back and forth between a typist’s hand position on the keyboard to grabbing the mouse to point at a desired spot on the puzzle.

Of course I would be remiss not to mention the sound system. Infinite Crosswords has an ambient sound feature that plays mostly soothing loops of various types. For example, you can listen to the sounds of an African forest, ocean surf, forest birds, harp music, or even a distant thunderstorm. It also will regale you with the sounds of a busy harbor or a New York City side walk — complete with constant footsteps of passersby and their nearly understandable conversations.

Infinite Crosswords is a challenging and enjoyable game that makes crossword puzzles more accessible and fun.

• Hint features help beginners develop skills
• Robust keyboard-command set eases game play
• Takes up less room than crossword books
• Variable sound tracks increase enjoyment

• Nothing significant

Infinite Crosswords
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