|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Beanbag Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 28, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
By now youre probably quite familiar with the For Dummies series of lessons. Even if you havent perused the illuminating pages of concise info within the tomes that cover hundreds of various subjects, the bright yellow cover and goofy caricature should ring a bell.
Recently, the PC has gotten a few games that are one part lengthy tutorial and one part gaming. Now, gamers are getting the For Dummies treatment for their DS. Following the puzzle-gaming-on-the-go tenants established by Brain Training and Big Brain Academy closely, Travel Games For Dummies provides an enjoyable brain-teasing experience.
Putting a slight twist on the genre, this cart throws in succinct strategy lessons in addition to the actual games, which cover Sudoku, Solitaire, and Crosswords. Combining these three games into one title translates into a solid gaming experience for busy travelers and casual gamers alike. All three games are well-represented in Travel Games For Dummies. Unlike other casual gaming experiences, each entry is given a three part treatment: How To, Practice, or Play.
In How To, gamers learn the ins-and-outs of Sudoku, Solitaire, and Crosswords, including strategy and terminology. This is much more than a glorified tutorial mode; however, the information is still quite terse and accessible. For instance, Sudoku players can learn the difference between Naked and Semi-Naked Singles (not to be confused with those found in a hot tub in Aspen), Hidden Pairs, and being Locked In. Likewise, all the rules are clearly given for diverse Solitaire games such as Pyramid, Yukon, and Free Cell. Finally, the Crosswords section covers themes including how to go about solving clues, analyzing clue forms, and even getting to know Crosswordese and which references to take advantage of. These in-depth tutorials are remarkably useful for getting to know the classic games much more intimately.
Later, players can apply what they just learned in the How To section by playing through the Practice segment. The Practice tab is full of lesson-specific puzzles or games, and it is a good way to reinforce the themes, especially during the Sudoku portion. When you feel youve learned all there is to know, jumping into the Play tab is the next step. There are 500 Sudoku puzzles covering five difficulty levels ranging from Very Easy to Very Hard. Solitaire is equally satisfying, as there a total of ten different Solitaire games to choose from, including Klondike (the most famous iteration), Canfield, Pyramid, Yukon, Scorpion, Monte Carlo, Penguin, Accordion, Golf, and Free Cell (well-known amongst ageing Microsoft Windows users).
The Crosswords section has a total of 100 puzzles ranked as Easy, Medium, and Hard across ten different categories such as Animal Tracks, Extra Extra, Way Back When, Audio File, etc. Also, I found the Sudoku puzzles provided a nice range of difficulty, and the Solitaire games gave a bunch of great replay value. However, the Crosswords were quite easy, even on the hardest setting. If youre a crosswords hound used to completing the New York Times Friday edition, youll likely find little to no challenge. Nevertheless, theres still a lot to like in this game.