Platform: XBLA
Developer: Regolith Games
Publisher: Konami



KrissX: The Verbose Vocabulary Vendor

KrissX, pronounced “Criss Cross”, is an Xbox Live game with its central focal point being the manipulation of letters to form words. It’s simple, basic, and yet it proves to be quite an engrossing, addictive and surprisingly educational game.

As said above, the aim of the game is to complete puzzles, these puzzles resemble crosswords filled in with anagrams. While the game doesn’t get much more sophisticated or complicated, it still is rather difficult to put down. The game is broken into a few different modes, Quest, Time Trial, Survival, Categorised and a Free Play mode, but they are all pretty similar. The quest mode has 150 stages to beat before you’ve “cleared” the game and after beating the game, this actually seems too short. Each stage has about 8 or 9 words connected like a crossword and as you hover over each word a clue will pop up to make things that bit easier. In general, a basic knowledge of English will be enough to get you through this game but throughout it, I encountered a few words that left me confounded. “Macabre” was one, as was “Zenith” and this brings me to the educational part of this game. I always thought I had a good grasp of the English language but of course after playing KrissX, I had to put in my bookmarks.

If you look at the bottom left of the screen, you’ll notice a small circle half full of liquid which represents your hint points. When you hit your right trigger, two tiles will flare, and swapping them won’t always give you the word you’re looking for but will bring you that bit closer. To get these hit points, as well as extra time and points, there are small circular symbols which fall from words when you match them up. These symbols, will come down in three different colours corresponding to the X, Y and B buttons on the pad. This seems to be added in to add a sense of competitiveness to the game as trying to get all of them before they float below the bottom of the screen can require extremely dexterous fingers.

Graphically, the game contains some wonderfully colourful backgrounds and Wordsworth the Owl is ever present (unless a word reaches that corner of the screen in which case he becomes transparent). The tiles are all easy to read but sometimes the clues can be tricky to make out. I had two clues: “fail” and “fall” and I could never tell them apart but in general everything can be made out, even on my abysmal SD TV. The effects when you get a cascade, which is like a domino effect of solving words, is pretty impressive if somewhat overwhelming the first time you see it.

The audio is actually well suited to the game, with very pleasant, easy on the ears melodies and the victory chime as you solve a word is subtle enough to be ignored in general and yet hugely appreciated when you crack a word you’ve been staring at for five minutes. Although there is a voice that says “Stage Complete” at the end of every stage which is actually quite humorous.

The achievements for KrissX are actually not too shabby, most of them can be obtained through casual play but a few, like the Extreme Wildfire one actually took some time to pull off. They are doable but not for the casual gamer that KrissX ultimately appeals. And that’s probably the most important thing to note about KrissX. It is a casual game. I turned it on for something to kill 20 minutes. My girlfriend was happy to play it. My mother even tried to give it a shot. It’s a nice game but I’m not sure if it’s worth the 800 points that it’s advertised for. I’d definitely pick it up for 400 but for 800 you would really want to like your word games.