Merv Griffin's Crosswords is based on the short-lived game show of the same name. Although the idea of a video game based on a game show may turn many gamers away, this can be a very fun time for game show fans.
The game is played by guessing crossword clues before your opponents do. Like a crossword, you can see the amount of letters and some of the letters in the answer if they have been revealed by previously answered clues. You get money when you answer a clue correctly and the harder the clue is, the more money you get. Once in a while you will get a crossword extra bonus clue where you can bet money. You may also win a crossword getaway which is a vacation destination. There are a total of 51 getaways that act as the game's collectables and up to three can be unlocked per game (two in the main game and one in the final round). The final round of each game is timed and involves finishing the puzzle that you and your opponents have been working on in the past few rounds. If you manage to complete it, you win a getaway!
The graphics are very generic but don't get in the way of the gameplay. Character models look like mannequins and sway like zombies behind their podiums while still. They express appropriate emotions at certain events and look genuinely happy or disappointed while doing so. The host and audience reactions are also fitting to situations. Ty Treadway (the host from the game show that this is based on) provides commentary and instructions throughout the game. This is done well as Ty has a good game show host voice. The theme song to the show plays in the main menu and is super catchy. You'll be whistling and humming it for days after playing the game. The controls are very responsive and simple since you only need to point with the Wii Remote and use the A button.
The main game has four modes; free play (do a crossword puzzle freely), timed (same as free play but timed), Merv Griffin's Crosswords (the main game show mode), and no spoilers (the same as Merv Griffin's Crosswords but with no spoilers). Spoilers are basically players in the background that can guess a clue if you or your opponent don't so they can take your place. Spoilers are very annoying as computer-controlled players but add to the fun while playing multiplayer. Computer players can be pretty dumb at times such as spelling a word with two letters switched around or ringing in but not answering at all. This is actually quite funny since you will look forward to what dumb things they'll do next. A nice aspect is how fresh each game is as there are very rarely repeat questions.
One of the best features is how each game you play is completely customizable. You can play single player or multiplayer for up to four players. Within the main mode, you can select the type of puzzle to solve; Monday player (easy puzzles), Thursday player (normal puzzles), Sunday player (hard puzzles), season one (puzzles from the show), and five themed puzzle types (food and drink, movies, music, sports, and TV shows). You also have difficulty options that effect how much help is presented to you and your opponents as you play which are easy (letters appear slowly in the answer until someone rings in and tries to answer), normal (players get a certain amount of hints per round that they can use), and expert (no help at all). These options don't necessarily make the game more or less difficult since your opponents get the same benefits as you. The best difficulty for multiplayer is easy since it adds a more competitive tension than the other settings do. Besides the main mode, you can fill out a crossword casually in the daily puzzle.
As games based on game shows go, this is a very fun one and is best played with multiple people. It is easy to tailor each game to maximize the fun you'll have. If you want to play a nicely paced game show and possibly learn some new words then this is for you.
- + Solid game show fun for up to four players
- + Easy to customize each game with a variety of modes and options
- + Catchy theme song and great host
- - Generic graphics
- - Computer players can be frustrating