2 Across

User rating: (8 votes, average: 3.88 out of 5)

When I first opened 2 Across I thought for a second that I had to subscribe to the New York Times premium service, too! I was pretty pissed. But then I tapped around a bit and found that not only are there plenty of free puzzles from a lot of different sources including The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, and The Onion (of all places), but you can grab puzzles from yesterday, last week, last month, even going as far back as ten years in some cases! Impressive. To get all these puzzles, just go to Saved Puzzles and tap on the + at the bottom of the screen, then choose whose puzzle(s) you want to download. Once downloaded you can play them offline without any kind of network connection.

You’d think that doing crosswords on such a small format would be tough, but Eliza Block has done a nice job of making it fairly painless. Of course you can zoom the board in and out by pinching, but the key to 2 Across’s usability is in the three viewing modes.

Grid: Shows only the board. Tap on a square to highlight the row or column, and the clue is shown as well.
Clues: Shows only the list of clues.
Split: My favorite view, which shows both grid and clues. Tapping on a row/column immediately displays the right clue, and tapping on a clue will highlight the right row/column. Tap the pencil icon at top right to start typing in your answer.

Eliza also included a nice bonus for me and the rest of the world’s dumbasses: cheating! If cheating is turned on (which it is by default) you will see a checkmark next to the pencil icon. Tapping the checkmark gives you a bunch of choices:

Check Letter: Find out if the highlighted letter is correct (a red X appears over it if it’s wrong)
Check Word: Find out if the highlighted word is correct
Check Grid: Checks all of your answers so far to see which are correct

Reveal Letter: Reveals the letter for the highlighted space
Reveal Word: Reveals the word for the highlighted row/column
Reveal Grid: Solves the rest of the puzzle for you

Of course hardcore crossword nerds will eschew cheating in all of its forms (at least that’s what they’ll tell you) but the cheating feature just makes this game that much more playable. And if you suck at crosswords but don’t want to cheat, you can always turn to the slightly easier crossword sources such as The Onion, Sydney Morning Herald Quick, and Thinks.com.

As negatives go, my only real complaint is that I’ve been kicked back to the iPhone main screen a couple of times, but it’s certainly not enough to raise any red flags. And a slightly better variety of puzzles would be nice, and by “variety” I’m really talking about more Puzzles for Idiots. You know that crossword in the back of People magazine, where all the clues are celebrity-related? Idiots like me just love those. Other than that, I really don’t know what more 2 Across could do better.

$5.99 seems like a very fair price for a game that could literally keep you occupied for the rest of your life. I can’t compare it to Stand Alone Inc.’s “Crosswords” because I’ve never played that version, but $5.99 vs. $9.99 already makes 2 Across a winner.

  • pat622

    Beware purchasing this app for you Iphone! I purchased this app just about the time it stopped being supported by Eliza Block, about 3 weeks ago. The problem is that the individual puzzles offered by different newspapers are no longer current. For example, I like Houston Chronicle and the puzzles downloaded for the date is not the same as what is in the actual newspaper. I have emailed support twice and received no answer. Other comments (complaints!) on the Iphone app page are similar, lots of complaints just recently. Up until the complaints started there were many excellent reviews from customers. I wish I had know before I was ripped off my money.