For the past couple of months, my wife and I have been creating our own crossword puzzles for our sons Philip and Noah because they really love to play them. We always try to create thematic puzzles to help them understand the hints that we provide. Based on our experience, creating thematic crossword puzzles is not easy.
That’s why I was excited to see the newly released Bonza National Geographic app from the makers of Bonza Word Puzzle. Philip and Noah really enjoyed playing Bonza Word Puzzle, but it wasn’t really designed for kids. Many of theme themes offered in the app are not suitable for them.
But, this new National Geographic-themed app is different. It uses the same mechanics as the original app, but includes hundreds of new puzzles suitable for science nerds of all ages — including my little boys.
Adopted Mechanics from Bonza Word Puzzle
If you’ve never played the original Bonza Word Puzzle, here are a few things that you need to know. Otherwise, you can jump straight to the next section.
Bonza Word Puzzle combines the word search game into thematic crossword puzzles to bring a fresh new way to play. Using the provided hint, players rearrange the letter boxes to construct a valid crossword puzzle. The hint is usually a shared characteristic of all the words in the puzzle; for example, the hint ‘animals’ will let you know that all the words in the puzzle will be animal names. Other examples may include ‘bus ride’ or ‘a group of humans’ to indicate words typically used to describe a bus ride or a group of humans.
The challenging part is that not all the clues can be read literally. Some of them may be mysterious, hence they’re called mystery clues. For example, in Bonza National Geographic’s Starter Pack, you will see a puzzle with ‘MO—‘ as its mystery clue. Because you don’t know what the hint is, you’d have to guess it as you play. As you see in the following screenshot, the hint for that puzzle is ‘months’.
In Bonza, you can’t move forward to the next puzzles unless you solve the current puzzle in the pack. The puzzles in Bonza are organized into puzzle packs. The original game includes Starter Pack, Classic Puzzle Packs, Celebrity Designer Packs, and Daily Puzzle Packs. You can unlock the Daily Puzzle Packs using coins that you earn by solving puzzle, and the Classic Puzzle Packs and Celebrity Designer Packs via in-app purchases.
Bonza National Geographic
Bonza National Geographic is more than just new puzzle packs. It’s a brand new app designed for kids and science nerds around the world of National Geographic. Featuring free daily puzzles similar to the original app, it organizes puzzles into themes such as Animals, Travel, Planet Earth, Humanity, and Science. At the time of this review, the app includes two packs of each theme, which translates to a total of 10 National Geographic theme packs.
The daily puzzle packs included in this app are the ones dated from January 2015. So, you can unlock months of daily puzzles by spending 220 coins each. These daily puzzles are brand new and designed based on National Geographic themes. They’re different from the ones included in the original game.
There are two things that make Bonza National Geographic stands out from the original game. First, it’s uses photographs from National Geographic as hints for the crossword puzzles. And second, it allows you to play jigsaw puzzles with these stunning photographs. Both of these resonate well with younger audiences like my sons.
Parents Need to Know
In the original Bonza app, you can create your own crossword puzzles and submit them to the developers. The developers will choose one of the best submission to be featured as the free puzzle of the day. With the launch of Bonza National Geographic, there’s an additional place where your submission may appear.
For example, one of the daily puzzles for May 2015 was submitted by Melanie from Australia, and highlighted the top beaches in the continent. I’m pretty sure that the puzzle was submitted for the original app, yet it’s included in the new Bonza National Geographic app because it falls under the Travel and Planet Earth theme.
Things I Like
If you’re a frequent Bonza player, you’d know that sometimes you’d find fun trivias at the end of a puzzle. For example, in the May 1st puzzle, you’d find a fun fact about how the first hot air balloon passengers were not human.
If you’re a science nerd, or if you’re just helping your kids as they’re working on the puzzles, you’d find yourself searching for the terms and learning a lot throughout the process. For example, when I was solving the 17th puzzle in the Animals 1 pack with ‘Animal Sounds’ as its clue, I had to read an article from Wikipedia about different animals sound and what they’re called. It’s just one of many examples where my sons and I learned new things by working on the puzzles.
SPOILER: Mystery clues
Before you check this section, I’d suggest you check out my tips on playing and solving Bonza puzzles without spoiling the fun. But, if you’re truly stuck, especially on the ones with mystery clues on them, here are the mystery clues for the first few puzzles I’ve played. Hopefully they can help you with solving the puzzles on your own.
- Starter Pack (9): Months
- Animals 1 (14): Bees
- Animals 1 (22): Lion
Bonza National Geographic is a sequel of the Bonza Word Puzzle designed with kids and science nerds in mind. The puzzles are organized into themes related to National Geographic, such as animals, travel, planet earth, humanity, and sciences. With the new picture hint and jigsaw puzzles featuring stunning photographs from National Geographic, they’re more appealing to younger audience. Kids ages 5+ should be able to play the game with a bit of help from their parents.