Who doesn’t love word games? OK, some people don’t. Maybe most, actually. But I do, so for me, XBLA’s KrissX (pronounced “Kriss Kross”) offers a welcome diversion from the platform’s sea of twin-stick shooters.
KrissX features crosswords with jumbled up answers. The player’s job is to rearrange tiles to form the right word and solve the puzzle. To give players a fighting chance, little clues pop up for each word, hinting at the answer’s meaning. It’s all simple enough, providing gentle, word-based fun.
But KrissX mixes things up from the getgo, offering performance-based scores and ratings based on how quickly you complete the puzzle and time-dependent combos that can rack up major points. Little color-coded bonus spheres drop off of completed words and drift up the screen, but pressing the corresponding colored face button on your controller grabs them. These bonuses can offer extra time, points, and even help rearrange single words–or possibly the whole puzzle–for you if you get lucky. This all helps to give the game an edge, as does the inclusion of leaderboards and performance-based badges to win. However, while the spherical bonuses add diversion, they lose their allure quickly, and the constant button-pressing becomes an annoying distraction while you’re trying to solve the puzzle.
KrissX isn’t going to challenge the hardened puzzle fan, although the difficulty notches up gradually in its main campaign. It starts to feel very repetitive over time, unless you’re able to chew through it in short, infrequent bites. A variety of game modes (including the self-explanatory Time Attack and Timeless) do mix things up to try and give it some longevity, as does the claim of having over 3,500 puzzles.
But as a kids’ game, KrissX has merit as a friendly, bright educational title, of which there aren’t many on XBLA. It’s quick to explain each facet of its gameplay, always happy to offer hints and help, and offers cheerful, relaxing backgrounds set against a charming if not necessarily impressive soundtrack. KrissX, for what it is, merits a look and may well persuade you into a dash of wordplay at just 800 points.