Game Over Online ~ Bookworm

GameOver Game Reviews - Bookworm (c) Astraware, Reviewed by - Pseudo Nim

Game & Publisher Bookworm (c) Astraware
System Requirements Palm OS 3.1 + device
Overall Rating 85%
Date Published Tuesday, March 11th, 2003 at 10:59 PM

Divider Left By: Pseudo Nim Divider Right

Astraware is generally known for games that stress your reflexes and your reaction, so it is a bit surprising to see them do a take on Scrabble - generally something one would not quite expect from them. But they did, and it's a rather good take, as we will see further down.

When I first got Bookworm, I was extremely skeptical. Not only did the original concept not appeal to me (not to mention that the name could have been better, from my original perspective), but it seemed odd that Astraware would make that game, which was, theoretically, out of their core concentration of addictive fast-paced games. I also didn't really feel like thinking too much.

Well, I found myself to be in the predicament whereupon I actually found this game to be really fun and really enjoyable, despite the fact that it was, well, Scrabble and I find myself desperately bad with seeking for words under pressure (ones over 3 letters, anyway).

The premise of the game isn't quite like Scrabble's (for obvious reasons). What happens is that you have a bunch of letters on the screen, a la Bejeweled, and you have to join them to form words by either dragging the stylus across the letters or tapping them one by one. Letters have point scores, and the more letters your word has, the higher the score that the word gets. You have special tiles - green-coloured and gold-coloured - that, when used in a word, significantly boost the point score that you get out of the word. There are also burning tiles that burn through a letter underneath them on every turn, and if they reach the bottom of the pile (i.e. that you do not use them in a word by that time), the game ends. As you get further in the game, you will get more and more burning tiles (I found it to get somewhat unmanageable around the 140,000 point mark). It gets pretty hard to make words when you have a couple of Y's and U's adjacent to each other.

The dictionary used in the game is of a reasonable size, though it definitely is not the Oxford English Dictionary - and if it is, it's not the newest version (since words officially entered into the English language, like "doh", are not accepted). Other words that didn't work were "zen" and "droid" (with the latter being, admittedly, likely not part of the English *officially*). Strange words that it DID accept were "moo", "wee", "nite" and "cooer" (is that somebody who coos?).

Besides the vocabulary iffies, however, I must admit I rather enjoyed, and still am enjoying Bookworm. Granted, it's sort of a arcade take on Scrabble, and Scrabble buffs might want to play the real version of Scrabble which is also available for the PalmOS, but what I like about Bookworm is that it gives you a certain degree of stress and/or action - something most difficult to get from Scrabble (unless you play timed Scrabble like those championship people - but that's just scary). The single limiting factor is, though, that you have to be quite proficient at English to actually enjoy the game, since the vocabulary gets pretty weird at times (and I was hella baffled on multiple occasions - woot to 3-letter words). It's also hard (though, of course, not impossible) to achieve a score much above 150,000, unless you plan your every move most carefully - because the sheer amount of burning letters dropping from above makes it virtually impossible to consistently create words with them (and they don't ever really seem to stop falling). But, all in all, I would most definitely recommend this game to anybody who ever played Scrabble and actually enjoyed it. Even if you didn't - try the trial, see if it makes its case to you. Just forget about putting in swear words - every four-letter (or any other) word I've thrown it was not accepted. Doh!


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