Spelling Challenges and More
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-12-19 Nintendo DS Educational E (Everyone) Crave Entertainment / Puzzle.tv

Spelling Challenges and More was one of Crave?‚…s titles I got to play at E3, and I did like it then, but what do you expect when you?‚…re a word game nut? Now with the actual finished product in my hands, I got to see what else there was in there.

Spelling Challenges and More is a word game, and I won?‚…t call it a spelling bee game because it actually cheats in that aspect. Let me explain.

The game is organized as a game show. You have your cheerful host who actually speaks to you and tells you what you have to do, explainnig the different tasks as you come across them. In this "career mode" called Challenge, you go through a series of mini-games that increase in difficulty the better you do. The first portion of the Challenge is the Spelling Bee, where you must spell correctly ten different words, but here?‚…s the thing?‚» the game gives you a definition and actually flashes the correct word on the screen, instead of saying it to you (like the PSP version does). On top of that, it actually lets you see the word again if for some strange reason you can?‚…t remember it or didn?‚…t see it the first time. It?‚…s more of a short-term memory exercise than a spelling bee, and it doesn?‚…t really make sense when you have a host that has a very clear and audible voice coming through the DS?‚…s speakers.

The remaining four rounds are randomly picked from the series of mini-games, which are more satisfying than the initial round. Odd One Out has you picking the misspelled word out of a group of four. Right One is the same, but you must find the word that is spelled correctly instead. Fifty Fifty goes along the same lines, but with only two words to find out which one is the correct spelling.

In Bomb Blast you must find all the misspelled words in a list of four before a bomb explodes. Not Noun has you tapping the words that aren?‚…t nouns as they are thrown at you. Mish Mash gives you a definition and a bunch of jumbled letters that make up the word you?‚…re looking for. You have to tap the letters in the correct order to spell the word.

Fill it in is sort of like Hangman. You are given a definition and must guess the word. However, you don?‚…t get to see which letters you have already picked and which ones were wrong.

As the words slide on the top screen, you must decide which words are nouns in Catchword and which ones are verbs in Hit or Miss (the problem with this is that some words can be either nouns or verbs).

After completing the stages of the Spelling Bee, you are awarded money for each word you got right and the unused bonus time is converted into cash. At the end of the five rounds, you are given a total high score and sometimes the chance to progress up the difficulty levels (there are 100 in total) by taking on the Super Challenge, which is basically a bet. If you get the three words spelled right within the time limit (again with the words flashing briefly on the top screen), you move on several levels in a row. If not, you go back to whatever level you were on. There is no actual way to track the level progression unless the host tells it to you at the end of a full challenge, which is a bit weird. And every time you do a new Spelling Challenge, you are told your level has already been set, but you don?‚…t know what it is.

Graphically, the game is very simple. You won?‚…t find any next-gen graphics here - a series of words and letters - though the host of the game is nicely animated. As for sound, you get some neat initial music, the great voice acting of the host and some chimes, buzzes and clock ticking sounds during the challenges.

I liked the marathon option for the mini-games more than the actual Challenge, though some of them won?‚…t be available right away and you must unlock them by playing through and coming across them in Challenges.

The real drawback of this game is the misleading title, since you don?‚…t really get an actual spelling bee and you don?‚…t get to hear the words said to you. However, those who like word games will find plenty of enjoyment here for casual playing, and parents can actually use it as an educational tool for building up their children?‚…s vocabulary. It also helps promote quick thinking and hand-eye coordination.

I believe ?‚£Vocabulary Challenges and More?‚΄ would have been a much more suitable title for the finished product, but still, the developers should have realized that a few things regarding the actual Spelling Bee gameplay were a bit?‚» off.

Special thanks to Kate Hedstrom and Crave Entertainment for providing a copy of this title.