Do you consider yourself addicted to the news? How well do you think you know the latest current events? If you think you're fairly caught up on what's happening in the world today, Guess the News wants to put your knowledge to the test. Part word game and part news reader, Guess the News plucks the latest headlines from major papers from around the world and wants you to figure them out letter by letter.
Guess the News syncs recent headlines from a variety of news outlets every time you boot it, and it's up you to decipher what those headlines are. The puzzling itself is fairly simple. You'll be presented with a headline that is missing some letters and words – kind of like a half-solved Wheel of Fortune puzzle. You'll be given the correct letters for the words you're working on, and you'll just need to click on them in the correct order to fill in the blanks. It's a fairly simple concept, reminding us a lot of a word jumble with one too many hints.
The game offers “timed” and “classic” modes, but they both play pretty much the same. If you feel your expertise lays more in one area of world events than another, you'll get to choose from a variety of categories including Top Stories, Sports, Entertainment, Environment & Health and more.
You can choose to use headlines from the news outlets of a dozen countries, meaning you're not just going to be stuck with a handful of world-renown US outlets like The New York Times or USA Today. If you're from Brazil or the UK and want to see puzzles based on the headlines in your local papers, switching countries is as easy as a tap of the touch screen.
Being a Canadian I was delighted to be able to tackle puzzles from The Globe & Mail and The Toronto Star. At the same time, the worldly newshound in me rejoiced in guessing the headlines in both the US and UK. Thanks to the wide selection of countries and the variety of sources the game draws from each, the supply of fresh headlines is seemingly limitless.
But there's more to Guess the News than just a simple word game. Each of the headlines you assemble can link you to the actual story from that news outlet's online portal. You can play a few rounds to get in the groove, and then take a few minutes to read every article you've just uncovered. Checking out the articles isn't required part of the game at all, but hey – if you're not interested in current world events, why did you even bother downloading this app?
Checking out articles is done through Guess the News' built-in browser, meaning you won't need to exit the game and boot up Safari every time you click on a link. It's a small touch, but so few apps ever take the time to employ it that it's a breath of fresh air whenever one does.
While guessing (and then reading) fresh news headlines can be fun, the difficulty in this game is remarkably low. Each puzzle always keeps a few words or letters on the board to help get you started, which is often enough to solve a puzzle with little effort. Combine that with the fact that the game will highlight the letters for the word you're working on (and now allow you to select anything else by mistake), and even on the hardest difficulty you have a recipe for simplicity.
But the handholding doesn't end there. At the bottom on the screen, just below the letters, each puzzle is accompanied by the articles opening paragraph. If you happen to be stuck on attempting to decipher an uncommon word – perhaps a person or a place – 90% of the time you'll find that word in the paragraph below.
Setting things to the hardest difficulty is really the only way to find any challenge in Guess the News. On Hard the game will limit the letter and word placement at the start of each puzzle to only a small handful of words – but with everything else still in place, hard doesn't offer up that much of a struggle. If anything, this should have been what the easy or medium settings played like.
The other problem we had with Guess the News was its inability to keep up with our speed. Since so many of the solutions were so obvious, we found ourselves tapping out full words like a pro. But if we tapped some of the letters too quickly, it would skip the correct letter we chose and substitute it with the letter that came next. Every time this happened it would knock us off of our perfect score and really get under our skin.
As a game, Guess the News is a little too simple and a little too flawed to really recommend. But as a unique and quirky way to get your daily news fix? This was oodles more fun than bringing up the daily papers in the iPhone's Safari browser. News junkies looking for a little word puzzle to go with their morning coffee are going to find Guess the News to be 99 cents well spent.