Even a dummy could see how casual games like sudoku and crossword puzzles have exploded in popularity within the last few years. DS has played stage to a burgeoning library of of these titles, the most successful coming from Nintendo itself. Travel Games for Dummies could very well change that trend, offering a slew of features and gameplay that could mark you as a dummy for not picking it up.
Three individual games are being packed into Travel Games for Dummies: sudoku, solitaire, and crossword puzzles. Within each of these games are three distinct modes of play that coddle you through the process of learning the rules, practising, and then outright taking on the game.
Electronic Arts wants the experience tailored to those unfamiliar with these casual games (assuming such beings exist), allowing you to learn the fundamentals of each first and foremost. Step-by-step instructions accompany each game in the How-to mode. In sudoku, for example, the game guides you through the process of selecting numbers to complete a grid and annotating squares with potential entries. You're free to go forward through the instructions or back, even, at your own pace.
Once you've learned the ropes (or if, like everyone alive, you already know how to play), you can hone your skills in practice mode or venture into a game. Solitaire offers ten variations including Pyramid, Klondike, Penguin, and Scorpion. Each win racks up stars, signifying your mastery of the game. Touchscreen controls make it easy to move cards about ad quickly complete a game.
Sudoku was the standout amongst the trio, possessing one of the most impressive arrays of features we've seen in a sudoku title on any platform. Whether that gets you excited is another matter but the 100 puzzles for each of the five difficulty levels provide plenty to play. As you'd expect, the game supports a handwriting option for inputting numerals or you can just tap entries on a number pad. There are also annotation and mistake options, as well as an inventive graph feature that shows you how many of each number are left to be placed in the grid. Needless to say, it's fully featured and quite polished.
Equally well-design are the crossword puzzles. Like Nintendo's Crosswords, you're able to either write out words letter-by-letter or select letters from a software keyboard. A hint system allows you to place letters in squares to coax your answers along.
Travel Games for Dummies may not thrill like a new Zelda or Advance Wars, but it's clear from our hands-on that it's going to represent incredible value. Electronic Arts is being thoughtful in packing in as many features as possible to ease new players into these casual games and the result promises to be nothing but positive.