The good old crossword has been a weekend pastime of dads around the country for many a year. Many of us will have memories of our fathers huddled over a paper on a Sunday afternoon, furiously scribbling and pretending not to hear Mum's requests to set the table.
Digital Chocolate, however, has other ideas for the classic word-puzzle. Its latest addition to the DChoc Café series looks to imbue a little coffee-shop cool to proceedings. It's a process developers have already carried out successfully for numerous other board and card games, from Dominoes to Poker.
At the heart of the game – and in common with all previous DChoc Café releases – is an isometrically viewed cafe hub, from which you can access each of the game's features. Aside from the obvious option to play a crossword game you'll find that you can deck out your avatar in a new outfit (items of which can be unlocked as you successfully complete crossword grids), restyle your cafe or get online to visit your friend's.
This side of the game has barely changed from previous versions, and as such it works like a well-oiled machine.
So let's consider its representation of the classic word game itself. Now obviously your enjoyment of Crosswords will depend greatly upon your appreciation of crosswords, if you catch our meaning. That said, even those who wouldn't usually choose to tackle the latest conundrum in their newspaper of choice will be able to find considerable enjoyment here.
Developer Sumea has crafted an excellent interface that caters to the casual player as much as the hardened crossword maestro. As you input a word, using the keypad as you would for a text message, individual correct letters are highlighted in green. It will also inform you when you have correctly completed a word. This lets you know you're on the right track, eliminating the knock-on frustration of having an incorrect word ruining a whole grid.
It's a brilliantly intuitive system, aided by en equally well-implemented hint mechanism that rewards completed words. Those of you raising your eyebrows at the thought of such hand-holding devices can rest assured that the hints are accessed via an easily-ignorable menu. However, there's no menu option to turn off the confirmation of a correct word, which is disappointing for those of us after a stiffer challenge.
What you can't dispute is the quantity on offer here – 100 puzzles of increasing size should see you through a good few commutes. And that's Café Crosswords' trump card, even above most of the other games in the series. Crosswords are perfect for dipping into during a spare five minutes of the day. Putting one hundred of the things onto your little mobile phone would be a stroke of genius were it not such a painfully obvious idea. The two were made for each other.
So, we really can't argue with either the quality or quantity of content here, meaning any further niggles are related to the words and clues themselves. Who would really grasp that a 'kitchen gadget' would be a 'beater'? They call them whisks where we're from. We also found the odd repetition of a clue and/or answer at certain points in the game, which is an unusual oversight given the level of polish found elsewhere.
But such minor foibles shouldn't be allowed to detract from what is arguably the most enjoyable, polished and best implemented game in the Café series. Sure, it won't redefine your expectations of what a mobile game can offer, but it achieves what it sets out to do with an uncommonly assured touch.