Bonza challenges you to assemble the broken pieces of a crossword to form many words that answer a single clue.
The creators of Bonza, Australian independent studio Minimega, have subtitled it "a new kind of crossword". In reality, it's almost the opposite of a crossword.
Try to picture a crossword that has already been completed, but someone has cut it up into pieces made up of between one and four squares. There are no clues for each word, just a single clue for the entire puzzle that sets its theme. Your job is to assemble the pieces into several interlocking words.
In two weeks, Bonza will be released on Apple and Android touch-screen devices, and it's the kind of game that this interface is perfect for: a word game without any typing, that requires you to simply drag puzzle pieces around.
For example, one puzzle may be titled "things you can waste", and the letter tiles can be arranged to form words like "time", "breath", "money", and "youth". Things get harder when the clue is a single word with only the first letter showing - I stared cluelessly at a puzzle titled "p----" for five minutes before my boyfriend looked over my shoulder and told me it was "pasta".
It's a game with a strangely erratic rhythm. Even late in the game I would alternately breeze through a puzzle and then be stumped, only to breeze through the next one. If you get completely stuck, you can spend in-game coins, earned by solving puzzles, to get one word solved for you. That said, you earn five coins per puzzle, and a free word costs 50, so it's not something you can do often.
Bonza is great - smart puzzles, clean and attractive presentation, and a gentle soundtrack - but I do have one complaint. For $0.99 you get the game, 70 puzzles, and access to a daily puzzle. There are more puzzles available, but each set of 30 costs an additional $0.99. In other words, each additional pack costs as much as the original game but provides only half the content. Sure, we're talking about very small amounts of money, but the perception of value seems way off.
Despite this, 70 puzzles for a buck is pretty decent, so even if you only buy the core game you should have a good time. It took me around three to four hours to finish all of the core content, but I am not the world's greatest Scrabble player - word puzzle experts may be able to plough through in only an hour or two.
I'd be happier if Minimega could tweak those prices to feel a bit more fair, but overall Bonza is a quality product from a small local team, and I highly recommend picking it up when it is released, especially if you're a fan of word games.
Bonza will be released on the iOS App Store and Android Marketplace for $0.99 on 20 March.
- James "DexX" Dominguez
Screen Play is on Twitter: @jamesjdominguez