It took me a few minutes to get that KrissX is supposed to be pronounced “criss-cross” and not “Chris Ex”. But stupid name aside, Konami’s new Xbox Live Arcade puzzle game is an original, but not very exciting little download.
KrissX is essentially the lovechild of the crossword puzzle and the jumble. Scrambled, intersecting words are displayed and players have to unscramble them by swapping letters around. Usually one swap is all it takes. It’s a simple concept that is easy to get into. The letters that intersect each other are anchored in, so players can use them as context clues for the bigger words. There are multiple modes, including a Time Attack mode that has players go one word at a time with only a few seconds to solve each one.
Unfortunately the game is overly simple in the beginning. It’s full of five letter words that only have one letter off. When you select the word the game gives you a definition hint, which further takes away any challenge. The later levels start to get challenging and bigger, but I was nearly a third of the way through before it ever felt like a real puzzle. There are 150 levels, which sounds like a lot, but it took me about five minutes to get through 30 of them. And even by level 30 I was seeing repeat words.
The backdrop for the game is a bright and colorful meadow, to accompany the owl character that acts as your guide. There are extra little score bonuses that pop up throughout and the game cheers you on the whole way. It gives the game a very PopCap feel, which is likely the intent. It’s cute and charming, more so than most puzzle games in the Arcade.
KrissX is sorely lacking mutliplayer. Even with the additional modes and special puzzles, the game still feels bare bones. Some sort of online component, or even local multiplayer would have worked wonders for the game, especially since there’s a focus on completing puzzles quickly.
Word puzzle enthusiasts may be drawn in by the concept of KrissX, and PopCap fans may be fooled by the similar presentation style, but the lack of challenge and depth makes the game lackluster. It’d be like recommending a cereal box crossword to a New York Times crossword fanatic. Maybe Konami will release some sort of Ultimate edition with more challenge. KrissX is cute, and it’s fun, it just needs to be more of a challenge to become relevant.