FAQ by Ryan Harrison

Version 1.00, Last Updated 2012-12-02

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Version 1.00 | 2 December 2012

  • The first, complete posted version of this FAQ.


Hello and welcome to my FAQ for Countdown: The Game - DS version. In this file I will completely outline all the modes in the game, how to play, and understanding the three different rounds that constitute a full game of Countdown. Most gamers from the UK will know Countdown as one of the longest-running, and most popular TV game shows that was on the air as long ago as 1982, and still going strong to this day. This portable adaptation of the show is a decent play if you enjoy the actual game show itself, and is also available on the Nintendo Wii. The majority of the game is faithful to the show and while not completely perfect, it's still a fair choice for puzzle game fans, and those who watch and enjoy the game show.

Game Overview


Stylus + Touch ScreenMake and confirm selections throughout the game (NOTE: all controls are made with the use of the Stylus and Touch Screen; the buttons on the console are not used)

Game Modes

When you've selected your profile and begin the game, you'll go to the Main Menu, where all the game modes can be accessed. Here's a rundown of all of the game modes found in the game of Countdown:

Single Player

Play a regular game of Countdown against the CPU. When you select this mode, you will then be asked to choose a difficulty level from a range of five. From easiest to hardest, these are: Beginner; Amateur; Expert; Pro; Champion. If this is your first time playing, only Beginner and Amateur will initially be available to choose; you can unlock and play the higher difficulty levels by winning a game of Countdown on the lower difficulty levels first. Basically, the higher the level, the more skilled the CPU player will be; in a letters round they'll usually find longer words, in a numbers round they'll get closer to the target number, and for the Conundrum, they may solve it in a quicker amount of time.

Once you've chosen your difficulty level, then the game show set will be shown in the top screen, and round types and letters/numbers/conundrum information will be displayed in the touch screen. A typical game of Countdown consists of fifteen rounds, and whoever selects the letters or numbers depends on their position in the set. The 'Champion' is in the left chair, and the 'Challenger' is in the right chair. Here is the format in which the game plays:

  1. Round One: Letters (Champion selects)
  2. Round Two: Letters (Challenger selects)
  3. Round Three: Letters (Champion selects)
  4. Round Four: Letters (Challenger selects)
  5. Round Five: Numbers (Champion selects)
  6. Round Six: Letters (Challenger selects)
  7. Round Seven: Letters (Champion selects)
  8. Round Eight: Letters (Challenger selects)
  9. Round Nine: Letters (Champion selects)
  10. Round Ten: Numbers (Challenger selects)
  11. Round Eleven: Letters (Champion selects)
  12. Round Twelve: Letters (Challenger selects)
  13. Round Thirteen: Letters (Champion selects)
  14. Round Fourteen: Numbers (Challenger selects)
  15. Round Fifteen: Conundrum

For information on how the rounds are played and how to score points, see each individual round section in the Round Types section of this FAQ. After the game is finished, the player with the most points wins.


During any point through a regular game (when not in the middle of an ongoing round), you can select the 'Back to menu' option to be taken back to the main menu. To resume the last game you were playing, simply choose this option.


In this mode, you can practise any round type of your choosing, as many times as you wish. When you select your round type to train on, you are given three time settings. These are:

30 sec.The standard amount of time for a Countdown round. The clock handle will make the standard 180-degree turn. You can chose 'Finish' if you have decided on your answer for the round. In a letters or conundrum game, the word you have punched in will be taken as your given answer when the timer expires; and in a numbers game, the last number you entered or made via a calculation of any other available numbers will be taken as your answer when the timer expires.
60 sec.Train on any round type you wish, but if you are newer to Countdown, then this may be a more ideal choice. You'll get twice the time to practise on any of the three round types, and like in the 30 sec. setting, if you have not declared your answer by entering it in while the clock is ticking and choosing 'Finish', the word typed in/last number calculated (depending on round type, of course), is taken as your given answer when the timer expires.
UnlimitedWith this time setting, the clock handle will continuously turn and only when you declare your answer will it stop and the Training Coach analyse the points you'd score and the best answer available be shown.

In the bottom-centre of the Training menu, there is also a menu button labelled 'Statistics'. Select this to be taken to the Statistics Menu, where the following information will be shown:

Total training sessionsHow many rounds you have played in Training Mode altogether.
Total Awards
Longest wordsThe number of longest words that can be made from the 9-letter selection that you have successfully found in the Letters Round in Training Mode.
Exact numbersThe number of times you have managed to successfully reach the target number in the Numbers Round in Training Mode.
Solved conundrumsHowever many times you have successfully solved the Countdown Conundrum in Training Mode.
Overall ProgressBeside either round type will be an icon with an arrow denoting your performance (improving, declining or at the same level) in these round types in the Training Mode.


In this mode, you can play a game of Countdown against a second player, provided they also have a Nintendo DS. Only one copy of the game of Countdown is needed to play a multiplayer game, which is done through the systems' wireless communicators. The system with the game inserted (Host System) needs to select this mode from the menu, and the system without the game (Client System) needs to go to 'DS Download Play' from their system's Main Menu, and select 'Countdown'. When this is done, touch 'Start up' on the Host System's touch screen, and from there you can enjoy Multiplayer Mode!


In this mode, you will be taken to a menu in which the Statistics table is displayed in the DS's top screen, and the Trophies table will be shown in the Touch Screen. Here's what they both look like:

Games Played00000
Games Won00000
Games Lost00000
Exact Numbers00000
Longest Words00000

The headings on the left side should be obvious enough to you. Basically, the numbers in the table will go up, the more games you play/win/lose, and the more exact numbers/longest words you find, in each separate difficulty setting.


[1] = Word Master
[2] = Math Master
[3] = Master of Letters
[4] = Fast Mathematician
[5] = Perfectionist
[6] = Conundrum Champ
[7] = Undefeated
[8] = Wooden spoon
[9] = Octochamp
[10] = Winner

For descriptions of the various trophies, please see the Basics section of this FAQ.


Here, you can choose one of the five sub-categories to have them explained to you, if you are new or unfamiliar with the game of Countdown. Here, I'll write down what the tutorial text says for each of them, but if you want to have a more in-depth explanation of the round types; how to play them and score, please see the Round Types section.

General rulesThe game consists of 15 rounds, commencing with four Letters rounds and one Numbers round. Next are four Letters rounds and one Numbers round. Finally, there are three Letters rounds and one Numbers round and then the Countdown Conundrum.
Letters round

Nine letters are to be chosen from two sets of cards composed of 70 vowels and 82 consonants. A Letter draw is made by the first player, who is selected at random. A Letter draw must contain at least three vowels and four consonants.

Using the letters on the screen, both players must try to find the longest word (containing between two and nine letters) in thirty seconds. In training mode, the time limitation can be changed to either 30 seconds, 60 seconds or unlimited.

Numbers round

Six numbers are drawn from two sets of number cards. One set consists of numbers ranging between one and ten. The other set consists of the following large numbers: 25, 50, 75 and 100.

The player must choose a selection of small and large number cards. Next, a target number is chosen at random.

Using the selection of number cards, players must make calculations in an attempt to either find, or get as close as possible to the target number. Each of the number cards can only be used once.

Some calculations are prohibited; calculations resulting in zeros, negative results, numbers containing more than four digits and decimals.


The conundrum is a nine letter anagram, usually arranged as two separate words. The player has thirty seconds to find the nine letter, single word solution. The first player to 'buzz-in' with the correct answer is awarded ten points.

Each contestant has only one attempt at guessing the answer. Each conundrum is designed to have only one solution.

Scoring System

For the Letters round, each validated word provides one point per letter used. A nine letter word provides 18 points. Points are only awarded to the player that found the longest word.

Both players are awarded points if their respective words have the same amount of letters. When a word is not accepted, no points are awarded.
For the Numbers round, ten points are awarded for the exact solution.

Seven points are awarded if the result is up to five away from the target number, five points are awarded if the result is between six and ten away from the target number. Points are only awarded to the player that has the closest solution.

Both players get points if their solutions are equally close to the target number. The points from the letters round, the numbers round and the conundrum are added to make a final score to determine the winner of the game.


Music: Touch the check box to toggle game music on or off, and modify the volume by touching the bars on the right.

Change profile: Takes you back to the Profile Screen to select a profile to play the game with.

Credits: View the game credits; basically the list of all the people who made the game.


Creating/Selecting a Profile

Upon starting a game of Countdown, after the initial credits screens, you'll be taken to the Profile screen. To begin the game proper, select the profile with which to play the game. All results, achievements and progress are saved individually to each particular profile.

Creating a New Profile

If there are no selectable profiles, or you wish to make a new one, tap a box marked 'New profile' in the Touch Screen with the Stylus. On the Touch Screen, a box with all 26 letters of the alphabet, a space bar and a Delete key will be displayed. Type in a name by tapping the letters with the Stylus. When done, tap the 'Finish' box in the bottom-right corner. Otherwise, to cancel making a new profile, tap the 'Cancel' box in the bottom-left. When you've finished, the intro screen will play, and you'll start the game.

Selecting a Profile

There are two profiles available to play at any one time. To select a profile, simply tap it twice, or tap it once to make the box turn a lighter colour, then tap the 'Play' button in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

The 'Guest' account is a profile that allows you to play the whole game as usual, but progress and achievements are not saved.

Erasing a Profile

To erase a profile, tap it once, then tap the 'Erase' button in the bottom-left corner of the screen. Select 'Yes' when asked if you wish to confirm, and this will remove that profile and all proress and trophies within it.

Trophies List

There are 10 different types of trophies that you can get in the game by fulfilling certain achievements, each in the five different difficulty levels. To view the the trophies you have achieved in each of the five difficulties, these can be found in the Statistics Menu, accessed from the Main Menu. Trophies that you have achieved on a particular difficulty level will be coloured in. To view the legend and descriptions of each trophy, use the Stylus to tap the trophy's symbol shown underneath the 'Legend' heading at the bottom of the Touch Screen.

Here is the list of each trophy, and their descriptions; taken from those given in the Statistics Menu.

Word Master: Compose a 9 letter word.

Math Master: Make an exact calculation.

Master of Letters: Find the longest word in less than 15 seconds.

Fast Mathematician: Find the target number within 20 secs.

Perfectionist: Make the calculation without going back.

Conundrum Champ: Win Crucial Conundrum.

Undefeated: Win a game undefeated in every round.

Wooden spoon: Lose 8 games in a row.

Octochamp: Win 8 games in a row.

Winner: Win a game.

Round Types

Letters Round

At the beginning of this round, on the Touch Screen you will see nine blank squares. Underneath these are two buttons, labelled 'Vowel' and 'Consonant'. By tapping either button, each square will be filled with a particular letter. You can pick vowels and consonants in any particular order you want, but the selection must have at least between three and five vowels, and between four and six consonants. If you are selecting the letters, you can also tap 'Next' before all the letters have been picked, and the CPU will automatically choose them all for you.

When the letters have all been selected, the Countdown clock will then tick away, and you have 30 seconds (or longer, if a different time limit in Training) to make the longest word possible with the letters available. Each letter in the selection can only be used once. Letters that are used more commonly in the English language tend to appear more often, such as 'R', 'T' and 'M', but less common letters, such as 'Q', 'X' and 'Z', while still there, will be less likely to show up.

To enter your word, tap the letters on the touch screen, and they will be moved into the bottom row of squares in the order you tap them to spell the word. If you make a mistake or want to remove a letter from the bottom row, tap it and it will go back up to the selection in the top row. When the thirty seconds are up, or if you press 'Finish' before the clock has finished ticking, the word you have entered into the bottom row is taken as your answer.

When time is up, both contestants will declare their word. The longest available word will also be shown (if it has not been found by either player), and you can also press the 'See all solutions' button to see all other valid words that could have been made from the selecion. In terms of scoring, here is how it works:

  • One point is awarded per letter if the winning word is between 2 - 8 letters.
  • A valid nine-letter word is awarded 18 points for using all the letters available.
  • Only the longer valid word will win the points, meaning the shorter word will not score anything. However, if the longer word is not a valid word from the dictionary, it will not get the points, and the other word, no matter how long, gets the points in value of its length, considering it is itself valid.
  • If both contestants have the same amount of letters in their word (whether they both have the same word, or different words), they both get the points.
  • Only words in the Oxford English Dictionary are accepted.
    • Variations of some nouns and verbs are perfectly acceptable. For example: 'HAPPY', 'HAPPIER' and 'HAPPIEST' are valid words, or 'CHANGE', 'CHANGED' and 'CHANGING' can also be used.
    • Capitalised names (for example 'THOMAS', 'LONDON', 'SEINFELD') are not accepted. Initals, abbreviations and acronyms (for example 'RSPCA', 'ASL' and 'YMCA') are also not accepted.
    • Only singular words can be used. Hyphenated words cannot be used, but if they do exist in single-word form then this can be used. 'RE-CLEAN' is an example of a hypenated word that cannot be used, as the word 'RECLEAN' is not a valid word in the dictionary. However, a word like 'RE-FILL' could be used, as it is also generally spelt as 'REFILL'.
    • American spellings of English words cannot be used. 'COLOUR', 'MINIMISE' and 'TRAVELLED' can be used, but 'COLOR', 'MINIMIZE' and 'TRAVELED', cannot.

So, here's an example for you. Say after making a selection with four vowels and five consonants, the final selection is:

  • If Contestant 1 were to declare 5 with 'RANCH', and Contestant 2 declared 8 with 'CHAIRMAN', Contestant 2 gets 8 points for having the longer word.
  • If Contestant 1 declared 5 with 'CHAIN', and Contestant 2 declared 7 with 'CARMONA', Contestant 1 gets 5 points as their word is valid, as 'CARMONA' is a proper noun (place name) and not in the dictionary.
  • If Contestant 1 declared 8 with 'CHAIRMAN' and Contestant 2 also declared 8 with 'MACARONI', they both score 8 points.
  • If both players declare 9 with 'HARMONICA', they both score 18 points for having the same length word, as well as using all their letters. Or, this would be shown as the longest word available should neither contestant have declared that word.

Numbers Round

In the Numbers Round, a contestant must choose six random numbers from a selection of 'Large Numbers' and 'Small Numbers'. There are 4 Large Numbers (25, 50, 75, 100; one of each available in a game), and the player can select between two to six Small Numbers (anywhere between 1 to 10, the same number can only appear twice; so you may see 4, 4, 5, 5, 6 and 6, but you won't see 7, 7, 7, 8, 8 and 8).

When all the numbers are selected, a random, three-figure target number from between 100 and 999 will then appear in large numbers above the number selection, which the players must then try to reach by making basic calculations (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) with the numbers available, as well as numbers that are made as a result of calculations with other numbers. Each number can only be used once, so for example, if you have a 100 and a 4 and multiply those to get 400, you can't use the 100 and 4 again, but you can use the 400 with any other available numbers, for example adding 75, if you have it, to it for 475.

The most common choice is one Large and five Small, but two Large and four Small also gives the best chance in reaching the target number. Conversely, six Small or four Large and two Small makes reaching the target more difficult. In some cases, it can even be impossible to reach the target number, or even within scoring range of it. If, say, you got the unlucky selection of six Small numbers, which turned out to be 1, 1, 2, 2, 3 and 3 with a target number of 999, there's simply no way you can reach a target that large with such a selection of small numbers.

Not all numbers have to be used to reach the target, however fractions and negative numbers are not permitted. When time is up, the last calculated number will be declared by the players. If the target is not reached, the CPU will show the solution, or if the target is not reachable, it will show the solution to get the closest number. Here is how the scoring works:

  • If a player reaches the exact target, they get 10 points.
  • If a player reaches between one to five digits within the target range, they get 7 points.
  • If a player reaches between six to ten digits within the target range, they get 5 points.
  • If the player cannot get within ten digits or does not declare a final calculated number, they get no points.
  • The contestant whose declared number is closest to the target will get the points, while the contestant with the further number away gets none. If neither contestant can get a number within 10 digits, neither get any points.
  • If both contestants get the target exactly, whether they calculated it the same way or in different ways, they both get 10 points. Or, if they get a number close to the target, they'll share the points if their declared numbers are within the same range. Say if the target is 562 and Contestant 1 declared 560 and Contestant 2 declared 564, should their calculations be valid, they'd both get 7 points for being within five digits of the target, and they are both 2 points away.

So, here's an example:

  • Contestant 1 declares 824, and Contestant 2 declares 815.
  • Contestant 1's calculation:
    • 100 x 8 = 800
    • 7 x 4 = 28
    • 28 - 4 = 24
    • 800 + 24 = 824
  • Contestant 2's calculation:
    • 100 x 8 = 800
    • 7 + 4 = 11
    • 11 + 4 = 15
    • 800 + 15 = 815
  • Contestant 1 gets 7 points, as their answer was closer to the target, and they were within five digits of the target. Contestant 2 gets no points.
  • The CPU shows the exact solution:
    • 100 + 4 = 104
    • 104 x 8 = 832
    • 832 - 4 = 828
    • 828 - 7 = 821
  • If both players declared 821 and calculated the same way as described in the last point, they both score 10.

Conundrum Round

The Conundrum is the final round of a game of Countdown, and there is only one Conundrum Round per game. It is an anagram of a nine-letter word, which has only one solution. The first player to buzz in and guess the word correctly within the 30-second time limit gets 10 points. However, a player only gets one guess at the Conundrum; if they guess incorrectly, the other player has the rest of the time to try and decipher the anagram. If the other player also guesses incorrectly, the round ends and no points are given to either player, and the CPU will show the correct answer. Also, if neither player makes a guess within 30 seconds, no points are awarded and the game finishes.

A 'Crucial Conundrum' is when the players enter the Conundrum with less than a 10-point difference in scores - i.e. whoever guesses the Conundrum correctly wins the game altogether. If the scores are tied at the end of the Conundrum round, another Conundrum is shown. Basically, the game will end once there is a definitive winner (the player with the highest score) at the end of the Conundrum round.

To guess the word, tap the letters on the Touch Screen in order to spell out the solution. When you have came up with a solution, press 'Finish' to declare your guess.

Here's an example:

  • Contestant 1 has 57 points, and Contestant 2 has 67 points.
  • Contestant 1 buzzes in and guesses 'ASSAULTED', which is the correct answer and gets 10 points.
  • Both contestants are now level on 67 points each, so a second Conundrum has to be played to decide the game. The second Conundrum is:
  • Contestant 2 buzzes in and guesses 'WHAPGIVER'. It is the incorrect answer, so Contestant 1 has the rest of the time to guess.
  • Contestant 1 buzzes in and guesses 'VIEWGRAPH'. It is the correct answer, and the are awarded 10 points.
  • Contestant 1 is therefore the winner of the game with 77 points to 67, and the game ends.



Unlock Higher Difficulty Levels (Single Player Mode)

UnlockableHow to Unlock
Unlock Expert Difficulty LevelWin a game on Amateur difficulty level
Unlock Pro Difficulty LevelWin a game on Expert difficulty level
Unlock Champion Difficulty LevelWin a game on Pro difficulty level

Legal Disclaimer/Contacting Me

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