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Time well spent in 'Crosswords Plus' and 'Art Academy' for the 3DS

Nintendo's handheld game console 3DS and its game

Nintendo's handheld game console 3DS and its game titles are displayed at a Tokyo electric shop on July 29, 2001. Japan's Nintendo on July 28, 2011 reported a first-quarter loss and lowered its annual forecast, citing the strong yen, a lack of new hit game titles, and research and marketing costs. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images) (Credit: Getty/TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA)

Crossword puzzles may very well be the godfather of passing-the-time activities. Whether it was a long business flight or that last few pages of a TV Guide, we are all victims to its black and white boxes of splendor. Nintendo brings that same classic brain scratcher to the 3DS with 'Crosswords Plus'.

No trees were harmed in the making of this game thanks to its simple design and touch-screen capabilities on the 3DS. There are tons of crossword puzzles to chose from and not a single page to discard after use. Difficulty ranges from Easy to Expert and helpful hints do a nice job of getting you through those mind-numbing questions where the answer is on the tip of the tongue but just out of reach.

'Crosswords Plus' features StreetPass and SpotPass, allowing players to unlock even more puzzles that are also sharable. The only problem with the game is that the touch screen can confuse letters written with the stylus with unintended letters. I had a problem with my N's nearly each time I wrote one, but, other than a letter here and there, the game picks your entries quickly from box to box. It's a great game to own for those days you have a few minutes to spare here and there.

'Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone!' is, on the other hand, exactly what its title says it is…a lesson. But wait, don't close your textbooks on us -- this is a lesson worth sitting in on. With a little time and effort, those stick-figure drawings could blossom into actual works of art. If Rembrandt owned a 3DS, he'd own 'Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone!'.

Returning 'classmates' to the 'Art Academy' on the Nintendo DS will feel right at home with the game and pleasantly surprised at what it offers. Mixing colors and applying each layered stroke plays quite well on the touch screen. Step-by-step lessons do help a great deal in making the game much more enjoyable than those who just want to draw. It's actually pretty incredible what gamers can design with the Nintendo 3DS in their hands. One drawback was the lack of any Undo buttons to click on during painting sessions. Even more lessons are available for download, like Fur & Feathers and Pointillism & textures.

'Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone!' might not be encouraging me to open my own art gallery any time soon, but it did have me re-think how I approach a blank canvas. Pick up both games and make the best of downtime with both of these titles for the Nintendo 3DS and please feel free to share your own digital paintings.

Tags: nintendo , 3ds , handheld , crossword puzzles , art academy , streetpass

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