I am actually on vacation this week, so last week I was trying to find some apps to keep me occupied on the plane. It’s a long-ish flight to Las Vegas – I needed to be prepared.
I had some books downloaded and a film, but sometimes you want a game to play or a puzzle to solve. I do love my puzzles, so I scoured the App Store for any recommendations it might have. As it turns out, there was a good one on a Top 10 list elsewhere – Bonza National Geographic.
Unbeknownst to me, the original Bonza Word Puzzle app was on the App Store’s Best of 2014 list. Surely, therefore, this latest incarnation had to be at least as good? It didn’t hurt that it was free to download and I still had a few days before I was flying. I could try it out first and if I liked it, I could buy some more puzzle packs (it has in-app purchases available) for the journey ahead.
How it works
Fans of Scrabble or jigsaw puzzles will be right at home with this app, as it switches between word games and scrambled images at random. One moment you’re trying to think of all the words associated with a giraffe, then next you’re assembling scattered pieces to create a picture of a koala bear.
It isn’t all about animals, but as it’s the National Geographic version of Bonza, you’d expect to have quite a few references to flora and fauna peppered throughout the puzzles.
Most players will already be familiar with the format of this app, not to mention the ability to collect gold stars (in other apps they might be coins) every time you completely correct a puzzle. Those stars will stand you in good stead when you’re really flummoxed and need some help, as they are the universal currency for buying hints. On the other hand, you can get a free hint if you’re willing to watch a 15-second video promoting another app.
The word puzzles give you a clue and blocks of letters that you have to move into place to create words related to that clue. If you’ve found one of the right words, the letters will immediately join up. If you haven’t, you’ll have to swipe your letters away to find their rightful place.
For example, the clue could be “DOG,” and you’ll have to create words like “BARK,” “COLLAR,” “LEAD,” “WALK” … and so forth. Once you’ve got them all, you win your stars and you’re on to the next puzzle.
The speed with which you solve a puzzle (or the amount of moves you make in order to finish the level) does not seem to affect the amount of stars you get. It appears to be five every time.
As with all other apps of its ilk, Bonza gets more difficult as you go along. At the beginning you may have to find four words that easily piece together, but as you advance, the words will be longer, you’ll have to find more of them, and guessing where they fit becomes harder.
The same applies to the jigsaw puzzles. Your first one will have about five pieces, but by your third or fourth one, the number of pieces has significantly increased and they are much smaller.
You can buy new puzzle packs with your stars, so be careful how many you use for hints. Only use them when you’re absolutely stuck … or sit through those short promotional videos for the free hints.
When I tried it
There are some apps I review that I only use for a short period of time, and then there are others (like, unfortunately, the Candy Crush Soda Saga) that I keep coming back to. The Bonza National Geographic app is a contender for the latter prize.
From the moment I downloaded it and started playing, I was pretty hooked. I liked the fact that it tested my knowledge on a variety of subjects, and expanded my knowledge on others. You’ll get some trivia information as you go along. There was something about koala bears … I can’t remember what it was, but I do recall saying “Oo! I didn’t know that!” when the fact was first revealed to me.
I got through the Starter Pack with no problems at all, but I will confess to being stumped a couple of times on the “Animals 1” pack when I just could not figure out what word I was looking for. All I can say is that I am woefully lacking when it comes to the subject of working dogs.
The fact that this app is free and gives you the option of seeing ads (for free hints), rather than pummeling you with them, makes it already a winner in my book. Those bonuses aside, it is challenging, informative and fun, so it ticks all the boxes.
I can see this appealing to a wide range of ages and it’s a good educational tool for children. Thumbs up!
Pros: Free. Interesting. Challenging. Gives you the option of free hints.
Cons: You may have to face your own knowledge weaknesses.
Bonza National Geographic
- Cost: Free (in-app purchases)
- Seller: MiniMega PTY LTD
- Devices: Android and iOS
- Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and older)
- Three stars