My absolute favourite genre of PDA games is word games, and today I bring you a review of one such game from Smart Box Design, called WordWatch. There are three playing modes available to registered users - WordWatch (the standard mode), Untimed and Practice.
The aim of WordWatch is to create a word using all the letters you are given (the number of letters ranges from 5 to 9), before you run out of time. If you can't make a word using all the letters, make the longest word you can. The letters that you don't use at the end of the allotted time become red tiles, and are placed in an area at the bottom. If you get 8 or more red tiles, the game is over.
If you can't solve the full-length word, you can click on Pass and it will show you the solution. But make sure you have entered the longest word you can, because all the tiles you haven't used will become red tiles! You move up through the levels based on how often you solve the full-length word, and how few red tiles you have - the fewer, the better.
In the WordWatch and Untimed modes, there is an additional round called the Bonus Round. If you have red tiles, and you find the full-length word for that round, you are given the opportunity to get rid of some of your red tiles. You make a word of the same length as the original word for that round, using as many red tiles as you can. Any red tiles you use are removed.
The Practice mode has an anagram round. If you solve the full-length word and there is another full-length word that can be made with the same letters, you start this round to try to find another word.
At the beginning of Untimed mode, you start out with some red tiles. The good thing about this mode is that you have as long as you like to find the full-length word, so it's perfect if you don't want the stress of trying to beat the clock. When you have found the full-length word for each round, you are given a bonus round to try to use up the red tiles.
One thing I am used to seeing on games is a numerical score; so I find WordWatch's scoring system, which is determined by your current level and round number, a bit unusual. However, this is purely personal preference and it in no way detracts from the enjoyment of the game.
As I have come to expect from Smart Box Design, the graphics on this game are excellent, with a great colour scheme and design. The sound effects are subtle, although the countdown when you're down to the last 5 seconds makes me a bit nervous! My nerves aside, Smart Box Design has again come up with a game that is perfect for playing any time, even if you've only got a few minutes or a few hours spare. Be warned, though, it is very difficult to put down!
For word game fanatics, WordWatch is a must.
WordWatch is available for $14.95 from the Smart Box Design site (but check out the PA sidebar for a special deal).
- Jenny O'Reilly, Associate Writer (Australia)