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Power of suggestion

The Universal Hint System.

The word cheat is so ugly in the gaming arena, implying that pluck and strategy aren’t enough, and you have to resort to fiddling with program code or sweet-talking a customer-support rep just to trounce the bad guys to the next level. So, how about the word hint instead? A little nicer, isn’t it? I think so, too, which is why my new addiction isn’t some just-released Sims expansion pack, but a Web site that freshens up the games I already have: The Universal Hint System.

Let’s face it–unless you’re a game programmer, you’re not going to figure out every teensy detail of a game. Even clocking in hours of play can leave you stuck on a level, wondering why the rockets fire only half the time, or watching your heroic computer-self get blown away once too often. The folks at UHS know this, because they’re uber-gamers themselves, and even better, they know the difference between help and cheating.

The site may look stripped down, with the most recent hints near the top of the page, but as Prince might say, it’s rich in personality. The suggestions they offer are drawn from their hint authors, who’ve logged in scads of game time and are willing to share the knowledge drawn from those long nights of clicking, Mountain Dew, and more clicking.

The site’s setup lets you choose just what you need to get back into gear, rather than putting all the hints on one page and potentially spoiling some future play. There’s also an option to download a Reader to pop onto your hard drive for $20, with a 60-day free trial version available. Although cheating can be its own kind of fun, sometimes it’s just nice to have a helping hand.

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