I tried to do the cryptic crossword in this morning's paper, but sadly couldn't even figure out 1-Across: Dancing Leap Mixes a Vital Jug (3, 5). Thankfully, when I need to recharge my active vocabulary, I never forget the JiG Vault. So what are we featuring this week, my lord? Words, Words, Words! Be sure to have your thesaurus at the ready for some language games that are worth at least a thousand pictures.
- Crossword - From Taro Ito of GameDesign, Crossword is a wonder of word intersection. An interesting combination of "fill-in" puzzles and cryptograms, the premise of Crossword would feel completely natural in a newspaper. However, it is streamlined and improved by its online form, making for an immensely satisfying kind of puzzle that you'd think would have been ripped-off a million times by now. As it stands, Crossword is a superbly-crafted gem, made all the more special by its uniqueness. An excellent difficulty curve and a distinct lack of ultra-obscure words means that players of all ages should be able to jump in at "beginner", but only a true wordsmith has a chance to persevere to the level of "expert".
- Word Sandwich - It's often difficult to eat ones words, but Word Sandwich, by Robert McKee makes for a more than satisfying meal. It seems so simple: there's a five letter word to puzzle out. Every time you input a guess, it will tell you if the word is before or after it in the alphabet. Thus you must "sandwich" your way into figuring out where in the alphabet it lies. The faster you guess, the higher your score.. Similar to hangman, but with a sharper strategic element, Word Sandwich will cause you to smack your forehead on occasion ("Of course! 'LIVID'! I should have known that!"), but you'll feel so satisfied when you beat the clock... and the rest of the English-Speaking World on the high score list.
- 8 Letters - Call them anagrams. Call them jumbles. Call them whatever, but when I see a string of apparently random letters, I just cannot rest until I've seen them unscrambled. East of the Web successfully latches on to this psychological quirk of mine with 8 Letters, and I think I won't be alone in becoming addicted. This is a game that's perfect for gathering a group of friends around the computer to shout out answers (and to share the pain at the solution-is-obvious-in-retrospect losing rounds). While sharing a similarity to the equally-classic TextTwist, it's the strength of 8 Letters' dictionary that keeps me coming back for more. All fans of wordplay should check it out, as well as the other games on the East of the Web site.
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!