What do you get when you take a game of “fill in the blank” and base all the questions off of current news events? Apparently you get a game that shows how much I’m not up on current events! To be fair, however, I’ve gotten the word iPad right every time! Anyway, Guess The News is all about adding letters to a phrase until you’ve successfully completed all the words. Thankfully, however, unlike Wheel Of Fortune this game gives you some letters to start with and also gives you all the letters that are missing. You just need to determine which ones go in which spots. This might seem like an easy challenge, but bear in mind that if you don’t know the spelling of a word or name in the first place, it’s a lot hard to recognize it with some of the letters missing. It’s even more challenging if you don’t have a clue what the story is the headline is in reference to. At the bottom of the screen is the beginning of the related article, but that doesn’t always help.
The game contains several categories such as international news, entertainment and odd stories. At the beginning of the game you select a country, and news stories from certain categories will be appropriately tailored to that country. You select your category, decide whether you want to play classic or timed, and then pick one of four difficulty levels. You can jump right to the toughest level if you’d like, or you can start at easy and automatically work your way through by beating each level. Within a level there will be several headlines to decipher. The headline will be laid out with one or more of the first several words missing multiple letters. Underneath the headline is a pool of letters, and you can either tap a letter or drag a letter to add it to the headline. Tapping will insert the letter into the next available slot of the selected word, while when you drag a letter you can drop it in any available slot on the selected word. To select a different word, just tap on the word you wish to work on.
The game sports both Classic and Timed modes. In classic modes you have to get a certain percentage of the headline right to move on to the next one. Your percentage will go down if you accidentally put a letter in the wrong slot. Early on you’re afforded a few mistakes, but on the harder levels it doesn’t take much to bump you below the safety percentage. In timed mode you of course have a timer to contend with. Thankfully there are no tick tock noises or alarms flashing or anything like that (or at least none that I’ve noticed yet), though on the down side you may end up with less time than you think you have at any moment. You lose seconds off the clock in timed mode when placing a letter in the wrong slot. I’m not sure how or if your percentage can be less than 100% in timed mode. But wait – there’s more. As the levels get tougher, the active letter pool might apply to more than one word in the phrase. And, to make things even more challenging, eventually vowels will be denoted by Vs in the phrase, meaning you could have whole words missing. This is where my brain starts to melt down when playing this game – but it’s still fun.
I was quite impressed with Guess The News visually. This is not meant as a dig on developers of word puzzle games, but generally the visuals tend to suffer for sake of game play. That’s not really an issue, because a word game doesn’t need to look like Halo 3 to be fun. However, Guess FingerArts Games apparently just likes to put icing on the cake, as GtN looks good. The menu interface is top notch, and when you get into the game itself there are all kinds of nice touches. The pieces will glimmer from time to time, and when you complete a word a ripple will permeate through the letters. Everything just looks sharp and professional. The sounds are also well done. As I listen to them I can picture some guy sitting a table twirling his noisemakers, ringing that old bell that came off a bicycle, or strumming a few bars on a xylophone. The music is pretty good too, but you only get to hear it during the menus. That’s too bad, because I don’t really think it would be distracting while you’re actually playing.
I can’t say I was an instant fan of this game. In fact, I struggled to play it long enough to effectively write this review. Once I actually got into the game, however, I realized that there was a whole lot of fun to be had. When you start getting whole words missing the game gets quite challenging, and the constantly updating puzzles is a big bonus. To top it all off you can actually read the full news stories if you want. I may not be a fan of current events, but at least now I know an entertaining way to read about them!