There are a number of reasons why the Puzzler World series continues to see new life on DS. For one, it's still a bestselling series, which is no doubt partly down to the DS's impressive install base around the world. However, it's also the fact that the titles' word and logic puzzles — which historically have been restricted to newspapers and books — are perfectly suited for the system's touch screen controls and portable nature. Puzzler World 2013 is the latest instalment, and with an impressive range of new puzzles all stored in a single game card, it's certainly worth a look if you consider yourself a puzzle fanatic.
There are over 1,200 different puzzles for you to complete (560 in the main ’Challenge Mode'), ranging from popular newspaper classics such as crosswords and Sudoku to more obscure challenges like Maze-A-Pix. The key difference this time around is that they're joined by a number of new games such as Loko and Backwords. The wider range of puzzles is a nice bonus, and they're just as well-implemented as the classics. The game is aimed specifically at the audience that enjoys these sorts of activities; there's no dumbing down, and you do actually need an extensive knowledge of various subjects for some of the word challenges.
As a result, Puzzler World 2013 serves up quite an authentic experience. The puzzles are surprisingly devious at times, asking obscure questions about soap operas or testing the limits of your vocabulary. Thankfully, there's a multi-tiered hint system in place to help with the trickier bits. Asking for a hint costs coins, which you earn throughout, but at any point you can pay more coins and receive more help. For example, spending five coins will reveal a single letter in a crossword, whereas choosing the highest tier will give you the entire answer.
Successfully completing a puzzle gives you the opportunity to attempt a quick bonus game. These are usually timed, and solving them allows you to play on a fruit machine, where more hint coins can be earned. After using the fruit machine once, it's unlocked and can be accessed at any time, but beating a bonus game will give you a free first go. It really is worth giving the fruit machine a shot, as you'll need all the hint coins you can get later on. Nevertheless, you can progress through the main mode in a non-linear fashion, completing puzzles in whichever order you see fit. It's this level of freedom — which to be fair, you would have with a physical puzzle book anyway — that prevents you from getting stuck in rut and potentially walking away from the title altogether.
The stylus and touch controls act as a natural substitute for pen and paper, although they aren't perfect in this instance. The letter and number recognition seems a bit iffy in places, struggling with distinct characters such as ’H’ and ’4’. It's a minor nuisance, but it's irritating enough for you to notice and potentially cause you to lose your concentration. Moreover, when you have to enter each character individually, rather than just write out the answer in full, it just makes the whole experience much more cumbersome than it should.
Nevertheless, the user interface is relatively clean and simple, with the only other downside being that not all the hints, clues or answers can be displayed on the top screen at the same time. Unfortunately, scrolling through these is necessary or else everything would simply be too small to read. Puzzler World 2013 really is a game that is best played on a DSi XL or 3DS XL, especially if your vision isn't too great. With all that said, it's fair to say that the designers clearly put a lot of thought into the user interface and came up with the most suitable layout given the screen size constraints.
Puzzler World 2013 is a worthy follow-up in the popular series. The new puzzles offer even more variety, and with over 1,200 puzzles on offer, you're certainly getting good value for money. There are a few issues when it comes to the user interface, but these are only minor. The presentation borders a little on the simple side, and there's very little that hasn't already been done before. Nevertheless, if you're a fan of classic puzzle games and want to enjoy a comprehensive range of authentic challenges, then Puzzler World 2013 is certainly worth giving a go.