YOTTSUGO is a, shall we say “challenging” word puzzle (for some, the word “challenging” may prove somewhat of an understatement). The object of YOTTSUGO is to create a 4×4 letter grid from an assortment of 16 letter tiles in which every row or column contains a 4-letter word. What letters you have to use proves, of course, to be the heart of the puzzle.
There are 40 different puzzle booklets. “Puzzle booklets?” you inquire. I am personally thrilled that you asked, because it’s the design of these little puzzle booklets that makes the game as fun as it is challenging.
Each puzzle booklet is numbered in order of difficulty. The front of the booklet displays the number (hence the level of difficulty), the amount of words you will be making (either 4 – with each word appearing twice – or 8), and the letters you’ll be using. Turn the booklet over, and you will reveal a clue: anywhere from two to four letter pairs that will appear in the solved puzzle. In some cases, the pairs are next to each other horizontally, as shown. In some cases vertically, as not shown.
If you still can’t solve the puzzle, even with the compassionately provided letter-pair clues, and have subjected yourself to whatever tests of genuine defeat necessary to make you feel completely inadequate, there is still hope. Lift open the flap (yes, there’s a flap, and it’s tucked in, so you are somewhat forced to acknowledge that by engaging in the act of flap untuckage, you have, in fact, already failed) and you will find a diagram revealing precisely 2 (or perhaps 4) of your letters, and where they belong.
Yes, yes, a welcome clue. And yes, you really should be able to solve the puzzle. And yet you can’t, can you? So you’ve failed once again. And yet, once again there’s hope on the other side of yet another flap. This one, untucked. Because you are clearly on the brink of becoming beyond help or hope. And here, on this new flap, is a clue. Perhaps one clue. Perhaps several: actual definitions of actual words actually found in the puzzle. And yes, the clue flap is in fact a flap, and, like other flaps, can be unflapped. But it is the final flap, beneath which is the solved puzze its complete self, revealing not only the solution, but the final judgment on your very being as a puzzle-solver.
The design and functions of these little puzzle-booklets take a fun puzzle and make it major. The entire concept of a providing the player with access to several different levels of clues for each puzzle shows a deep understanding of the puzzle-solving psyche. We don’t want help unless we ask for it. And when we do, we want just the right amount of help. It’s a model of good teaching practice, of good instructional design, of good puzzle making. YOTTSUGO demonstrates that how a solution is presented can be as much a factor in the design of a good puzzle as the puzzle itself. Unfortunately, the puzzle cards are a bit fragile, especially because of the way they’re packed in the box (it becomes a bit to easy to tear the tab as you try to shove the cards back in). Best advice: after the game, take all the cards out first of the box first, stack them evenly, then put them back into the box.
Though YOTTSUGO is designed as a one-player puzzle, there were six of us around the table “tasting” the game. And all six of us were involved in trying to help solve the puzzle. Another testimony to the allure of the puzzles and the play value of the game.
Designed by Nicholas Cravotta and Rebecca Bleau of Blue Matter Games, YOTTSUGO is designed for word puzzle lovers who are at least 12 years old, and is made available by Fatbrain Toys.