Now I’ve never been the head editor for a publication as big as OK! Magazine but, if I was, I certainly doubt that my job would entail doing crossword puzzles and sudoku. OK! Puzzle stars has little or nothing to do with the license it is based upon, apart from a vague sprinkling of trivial celebrity references. This lack of relevance seeps into the game’s presentation that features an entirely arbitrary soundtrack and a distinct lack of visual flair. The actual transitions between menus and the basic UI graphics are smooth enough, and I suppose it is hard to criticise a crossword puzzle simulator for not inspiring on an aesthetic front. The soundtrack could’ve had a bit more effort put into it however, as I found myself playing the game on mute for extended periods of time and found that the experience was totally unaffected by this.
The gameplay fails to inspire in quite a similar vein. You get your editions of the magazine out on the shelves by clearing various puzzles, ranging from sudoku and crossword puzzles to the standard word search. (Man, I wish I had their job.) You complete these tasks by inserting your words or numbers into the squares character by character. This done through a handwriting recognition system. You scrawl the character into a box in the corner and the game then interprets it. It’s fairly novel to begin with but it is also an unintuitive control method that often takes much longer than it would if they gave us a touch keyboard. It’s a nice idea that you can train the game to better recognise your handwriting, but this is only to cover up the fact that the default handwriting recognition is pretty bad.
The puzzles range from the rudimentary, to the annoyingly cheap and they even show up in the damn annoying variety as well. As if this wasn’t bad enough, they have a tendency to repeat themselves; a lot. There are over a hundred puzzles that will take a fair while to get through, but they are all the same puzzle types repeated over and over. Whether or not this game will last you a while is almost irrelevant. OK! Puzzle stars isn’t necessarily an awful game, but it does absolutely nothing that a good puzzle section in a daily paper can’t do. And lord knows that the daily paper is a much cheaper alternative.
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo DS.
A reasonable variety of puzzles, reasonably smooth visual transitions, training handwriting recognition is a nice touch
Some brain dead puzzles, arbitrary presentational elements, controls are not at all intuitive, handwriting recognition can be ropey, extremely repetitive
Now that everyone and there mum seems to have a licensed video game, it seems it's OK! Magazine's turn to add to the pile of mediocrity we endure in our day to day gaming