I'm the type of person who picks up a newspaper strictly for the crossword puzzle. I have subscriptions to logic and variety puzzle magazines. I have trouble sleeping unless I solve a few puzzles before turning off my light. So naturally, Smart Games Challenge 1 is a favorite of mine.
Smart Games Challenge 1 is a puzzle-lover's dream, with 20 widely different puzzle categories available for solving. Puzzles as divergent as simple anagrams and sliding tiles sit right next to crosswords, cryptograms, spatial relation puzzles, and more. There's even a variation on the old LIFE virus colony simulation.
In each category, there are as few as eight and as many as 20 challenges, all ranging in difficulty from the extremely simple to the brain-crackingly difficult. It's not too tough to figure out the next entries in the series 1, 4, 9, 16, 25 (the numbers 1 through 5 squared). But, when asked to figure what comes next in the series of Das, Dan, Pra, Vix (think Santa's reindeer), things are a little more difficult.
Each puzzle has a particular amount of points it is worth, and Smart Games Challenge 1 keeps track not only of each puzzle but of each category and your total overall. Since some puzzles are completely open-ended, there's no definable limit to the number of points you can possibly score. And with the huge number of puzzles available, there's always somewhere else to go when you get stumped. Puzzles can be saved in mid-solve if you need a break and don't want to recover earlier ground.
At any time, you can access any puzzle in any category thanks to the handy tabs on the bottom of the screen. More importantly for the player, you can check your progress in each category of puzzles to determine how close you are to the maximum score in each puzzle. Puzzles where you came up a little short can be played again to see if you can maximize your total.
Graphics throughout the game are clean and attractive, without being flashy or unnecessary. Everything is easily distinguishable, which is essential for a game that relies so heavily on visual puzzles and clues. Sound is perhaps the only significant area in which the game suffers. While the music on the main menu screen is catchy and will run through your head for hours, the sound in the puzzles themselves is often limited to simple clicks.
When Smart Games Challenge 1 was released, Smart Games issued a contest that could be entered on their website. The players with the highest scores in the first five three-month periods after the game's release each won $10,000. While the contest is, sadly, over, answers to several categories of puzzles have now been provided on the Smart Games website.
In short, there is very little wrong with this title. If you love brain teasers, there's nothing that should stop you from hunting Smart Games Challenge 1 down and spending hours with it. It's filled with the sort of thing that will make you bang your head on the keyboard for hours, but in the good way that only the most dedicated of puzzle solvers knows and loves.
Graphics: Clear, crisp and not overbearing.
Sound: Great music, but little in the way of sound effects
Enjoyment: If you can't get enough driving yourself to distraction with difficult puzzles, you'll never get enough.
Replay Value: Puzzles can be played over and over as better solutions are found.
People who downloaded Smart Games Challenge #1 have also downloaded:
Smart Games Puzzle Challenge 2, Smart Games Puzzle Challenge 3, Smart Games Word Puzzles #1, Smart Games StrataJams, Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects, Microsoft Entertainment Pack: The Puzzle Collection, Pandora's Box, Jeopardy with TV & Movie Pack
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