Like a lot of people, my day begins with Joel Fagliano and his Mini crossword in the New York Times. Then, I am sad to note, my day often goes downhill. Whole hours pass in which I do not have to solve clues so I can put letters in little boxes. It’s not right. Fagliano manages to make one of his Minis every day – it seems wrong to ask for more than that. Yet the day is long and the Mini is mini.
This is why Tiny Crossword’s appearance on Apple Arcade is such a delight. I missed this when it was just an App Store game, but Arcade works to bring things into focus. Tiny Crossword’s crosswords are the American style. No cryptics, sadly, which means that true crosswording glory lies elsewhere, with people who know which words indicate an anagram and which phrases should have you thinking about International Circulation Marks. Instead, you get straight up question-and-answer fun, which is actually great! This is the stuff Fagliano trades in (although he can get a little cryptic when he wants to). If, like me and Joey Tribbiani, your idea of a crossword clue is “three letters: Not dog but…”, rather than “Strangely resonant – it is loud (10)”, then you will be very happy here.
Tiny Crossword+’s crosswords are frequently tiny and look just like the Mini. They are a lovely breeze, too: often you will not have to even glance at the down clues, because across will have you covered. They take seconds, and you can chew through a surprising amount in a single sitting. The campaign takes you around the world and there are boosters and what-have-you, but most of that can be ignored.
Things scale, and there are actually some pretty big crosswords and fairly steep challenges in store. But there’s also – hooray! – a daily challenge that’s unlocked in the first few minutes. A mini away from the Mini. A few clues and the day’s looking bright again.