I love word games. I’m a Scrabble aficionado; same with Scattergories. And I’ve been obsessed with Wordle for most of 2022. So naturally, I was looking forward to the anagram stylings of Letterbox by POWGI, which brings a simple yet addictive word puzzle to the Nintendo Switch.
The premise is straightforward: each puzzle consists of a block of nine blank tiles surrounded by letters on all sides. You’re given a nine-letter word, like “superhero”, “boomerang”, or “sunscreen”. Your task is to create six five-letter words by rearranging the current nine-letter word to fill in the blanks. The trick is making them fit, with only one possible solution.
Letterbox comes with 120 puzzles to solve, a decent number to keep you busy for several hours. Each one only takes a couple of minutes to solve, depending on how quickly you work and how often you check your answer with the built-in check feature.
Yes, you can check your answers as you work through each anagram. Pressing the L+R buttons simultaneously reveals whether errors are present or not. You also have the option to fix them, which removes any incorrect letters from the grid. It makes it much easier to complete puzzles, though I tried not to rely on it too much – overusing it felt a little like cheating. You can fly through the game by checking each letter one by one, but then you’re not really figuring out the answer for yourself. If you use your own process of elimination, it tests your brain a little more and makes the game last a little longer.
The interface is extremely basic. On the plus side, it’s clean and easy to navigate. On the downside, there’s not much to do outside of completing anagrams. There’s no menu to speak of, just four pages consisting of thirty puzzles each.
This simplistic approach applies to the controls, too. Touchscreen controls are thankfully present in handheld mode. On the big screen, you can move the left joystick to get around the grid of tiles, while a quick tap of the A button takes your cursor to the nine-letter word. The B button removes a letter, + button pauses, – for instructions. You get it; nice and simple.
You can tackle puzzles in any order, which I appreciate. When you finish one, you’re given a glimpse into a missing feature. A handy popup informs you of the time taken to complete the current puzzle. Great! Wait, how do I revisit my best times? Oh, that’s right, you can’t. Times are not recorded anywhere, which is a shame. There are no star ratings or leaderboards, either; nothing to motivate you to try again or compete with yourself or anyone else. Once the puzzle is solved, there’s no reason to repeat it.
There is one other frivolous feature. When you finish an anagram, a humorous quip is displayed based on the nine-letter word. These are mostly the type of groan-worthy puns found in other POWGI titles, but a couple made me chuckle, and it does lend some personality to the game. For example, the “superhero” puzzle resulted in the line: “If Silver Surfer and Iron Man teamed up they’d make great alloys”. My favorite phrase, though, was: “It’s just as hard to try to lose a game of rock, paper, scissors as it is to try to win”. That one actually blew my mind. Try it; it’s true.
Overall, Letterbox by POWGI is simple and fun. The no-frills style won’t provide much longevity after you’re done, but if you like word puzzles, this is enjoyable. Some future DLC – though unlikely – would also be welcome to help extend the game’s life.