Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 161 / FEBRUARY 1994 / PAGE 120

Crosswire. (word-association game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Scott A. May

Have you ever watched a TV quiz show and guessed the answers long before the onscreen contestants? It's easy, right? Now you can jump into the hot seat and test your knowledge with CrossWire, a fast-paced and challenging word-association game for Windows. Presented in a slick game-show format, with tongue firmly in cheek, this one-player contest is easy to learn and instantly addictive.

The premise is deceptively simple: Match words or phrases from one column with associated clues in another column before time runs out. Points are awarded for each correct pairing, while points are deducted for each wrong answer. The game advances with three solo CrossWire rounds of increasing point values. Score at least 2500 points to qualify for the LiveWire round, where you match quick wits with one of six computer opponents. Beat your challenger and move on to the final HighWire round, a frantic race against the clock with a devious twist: Hidden somewhere in your list of words are two bogus clues. Attempt to match a bogus clue, and you'll immediately lose the game. Winners take a trip to the HotWire room for a random shot at 50 "fabulous" prizes, most of which will bring a good chuckle.

Three levels of difficulty--Leisurely, Challenging, and Wired--determine the speed of the clock and thus, the pace and challenge of the game. The program divides its database of approximately 7560 clues among 16 categories, including Pop Culture, History, Geography, Movies, Music, Sports, Literature, and Language. Additional clue disks are also available from the publisher for $14.95. The program can track the history of up to seven players, assuring that each new game will be played with a fresh set of clues. Detailed player stat sheets record number of games played, points scored, prizes won, and best categories.

The clues range from incredibly easy to impossibly tought, depending on your background and areas of interest. Since blind guessing can quickly cost you the game, when stumped you should match as many as you can, then simply let the clock run out. One of the game's most intriguing aspects is its purposely obscure category topics. As in the quiz show Jeopardy!, you're never sure what the clue relationships will be from the vague topic headings. In Commerce, for example, the topic "Head to Toe" requires matching articles of clothing to popular name brands. With other topics, such as "First Ladies," the relationship is more apparent. Like all good trivia games, CrossWire manages to educate while it entertains.

Graphics are simplistic but stylish, rendered in 16 colors with no animation. Likewise, sound effects are sparse but well implemented. This is the type of game that cries out for multimedia treatment, with live actors, speech, flashy game-show theatrics, and phony commercials. A modem option would also be fun, allowing two players to go head to head, but none is offered.

Light and lively, CrossWire will have even the most serious Windows users uttering those famous last words: "Just one more game."