The debate over pen vs pencil may continue to rage in the passionate world of crossword puzzles, but there is one thing on which all aficionados can agree: The New York Times crossword puzzle is the creme de la creme of crosswords. For many, it's the only crossword. To quote Jon Stewart in the documentary Wordplay, "I will solve, in a hotel, a USA Today, but I don't feel good about myself when I do it."
So we know straight away that The New York Times Crosswords is going to contain quality puzzles. Now, the only question is whether or not the interface will be easy and fun to use, or make you want to put down your DS and opt for traditional pen (or pencil) and paper instead.
Luckily, because of the stylus control and overall well-designed interface, Crosswords really feels as natural as sitting down with the Sunday paper (without all that folding and creasing). You can zoom in and out on each puzzle, and being able to see the entire puzzle at once is a huge plus, and is still amazingly legible on the DS screen. Moving from one part of the puzzle to the next is a snap with the stylus, and feels just like using a real pen. Letters are inputted by filling in a large text box, which can be set to either the left or right side depending on your handedness. The handwriting detection is great, because it allows you to write as you would normally, instead of having to use those weird palm pilot style letters (meaning you can pick up and put down the stylus within the same letter if you would naturally do so without it being a problem).
For the competitive puzzler, there's an awesome multiplayer mode for up to four players which can be played using a single cartridge (or multiple carts if you have them). There's a co-op mode, but the real magic in is the vs mode, where players all work on solving the same puzzle, competing to fill in the most squares correctly. The battle gets more intense as less and less squares are left near the end, and it's surprisingly fun given that crosswords are usually a solo activity.
The New York Times Crosswords should be considered as an alternative to a crossword compilation book, but compared to a book of the same size (Crosswords contains over 1000 puzzles), it's a bit pricey at $30. It is, however, easier to carry, and with the DS version you have the option of re-solving old puzzles, while with a book you don't (especially if you're on the "pen" side of the debate). With a great interface and the best source material possible, The New York Times Crosswords is a must-have for any crossword fan on the go.