No four letter words here.
If you ever thought you were really good at crosswords, let the New York Times set you straight. DS owners can prove their skills without waiting for the next newspaper to come in the mail, because New York Times Crosswords delivers over a thousand puzzles from the New York Times archives, plus a fully touch driven interface. However, as good of a fit crosswords and the DS are, it's a bit surprising that the final game has some obvious flaws.
The best thing about NYT Crosswords is, simply enough, that it gives the player access to over two and a half year's worth of crosswords, all originally published in the New York Times between March of 2004 and November of 2006. As a quick, easy, and portable way to access all those crosswords (and without the need for a pencil or a flat surface), NYT Crosswords is convenient and functional.
The main game is a “campaign" mode of sorts where you go through random puzzles in order from Monday, the easiest, to Sunday, the hardest. A timer keeps track of your progress and scores your speed at the end. There is also a Challenge mode that allows you to select any puzzle you like from the calendar (knowing the date can help you solve some of the pop culture clues), and lastly a random puzzle selector. All three of these functions provide you with the same set of puzzles, making the random puzzle selector superfluous.
The crossword takes up the entirety of the bottom screen, except for a tiny text box for you to write letters in and a heads up display. The top screen is mostly wasted, holding only the clue and a timer. The touch screen does a fine job for navigating a crossword, allowing you to drag the board with the stylus, and the game has solid letter recognition (upper and lower case are both recognized, while cursive for the most part isn't) and an onscreen keyboard if you don't want to bother with drawing letters. Certain functions, like zooming or erasing, are relegated to buttons or touch icons, and none of them offer any real grief. There is a hint function, however, that is mapped to the X button; using the hint function lowers your score, and since you're not using buttons very often it's easy to forget which buttons do what and accidentally hit the wrong one. The L and R buttons work ingeniously for scrolling through all the clues in order, but the developer very unwisely decided to make the L button move through the puzzle backwards, while R moves forwards. This works well for left-handed players who will be holding the DS with their right hand, but those holding the DS with their left hand (right-handed people) will find this function useless.
One of the key faults of NYT Crosswords is its visuals. Firstly, none of the zooming functions offer an entirely appropriate view, since the highest zoom gives you little perspective of the whole board, and the lowest doesn't include the puzzle numbering. This is mostly the fault of the DS' small screen, however, and can be slightly remedied by turning off the heads up display. The second visual complaint worth mentioning is the color scheme. It may seem silly, but shouldn't a crossword game include the classic crossword black and white coloring? Instead we are treated to variations of soft greens, oranges, and purples, with tiny designs in the corners. Complaining about color schemes may seem overly critical, but when your entire game is text on a screen, the colors matter. (Also note that there is a screenshot of black and white gameplay available on NWR, so it may be an unlockable function that this reviewer did not find.)
Other than those mostly minor complaints, NYT Crosswords is exactly what it says it is: nearly three years of crosswords from the New York Times all available on the DS. There is probably room for more features, but as a simple record of crossword history, the game works well. For crossword junkies it's a no brainer.