Sometimes, a simple concept can prove a winning one, and Wellington-based Developer StrayRobot may be onto something with their new, user friendly word game for iPhone and iPad, aptly titled Wooords.
The object of the game is straightforward: make as many words as you can from a selection of jumbled letters, by dragging them around the screen. There are only two basic rules: words must contain a minimum of four letters, and each must include a specific, highlighted letter. Each letter has a basic point value, and the less common ones are worth more (just like Scrabble). Extra points are awarded for words comprising two or more syllables, or those using all of the letters; plus there’s a speed bonus multiplier for words cobbled together in quick succession. The latter is a good incentive to think fast and swipe even faster.
Individual letters can readily be selected and dragged around the screen, and will obligingly make way to accommodate another dropped in their midst. Occasionally, one won’t respond to your touch, but a simple shake of the phone will scatter the whole lot and fix the problem. This is also a handy tactic anytime you are stuck; simply seeing the letters in a different configuration can inspire your inner lexicon.
As you frantically construct as many words as you can, a progress bar at the bottom of the screen gradually fills up, increasing your ‘word IQ’. This is separate from the ‘advance to next level’ quota, and is used to determine your standings on the global leaderboard. The game’s difficulty is regulated by the amount of points required to reach the next level, and also by the selection of letters available. Each level contains at least one nine letter word, so you can really test the grey matter by trying to discover what they are (and if you’re anything like me, it’ll bug you till you do).
A list of words already used sits unobtrusively in the background, so you can avoid doubling up. Spending a little time with the game makes you realise just how many obscure, ridiculous words are out there (and these are usually stumbled across by sheer accident). It’s good to see the inclusion of modern words as well, many of which you won’t find within the Oxford dictionary.
There are three modes of play, but since they all involve dragging letters around the screen and forming words – with or without a time limit, it’s basically just variations on a theme. All modes have a global leaderboard function, so you can compare yourself to other wordphiles around the world.
Graphics are minimalist… but in a good way. There’s nothing superfluous to divert your attention from the letters, which look just like colourful, miniature fridge magnets. Conversely, the jaunty, playful tune looping in the background can quickly become distracting. Fortunately, turning off the sound doesn’t detract from gameplay.
There are some 30 levels to play, and while the first few are done and dusted quicker than you can say: “but I was just getting started!” some of the latter ones can take up to 20 minutes. If you literally become lost for words, simply do what the 30 Seconds guy does and “walk away!” Chances are, you’ll be able to come up with new words after a short break. You can revisit previously completed levels if you wish, but the only reason to do so would be to find any words you’ve missed, or to nail those elusive nine letter suckers. Overall, Wooords is easy to play, suitable for all ages and addictive in an understated way. If word games float your boat, it’s definitely worth a visit to the App Store.