Bookworm Adventures: Volume 2 Review: Scrabble To Your Doom!
When it comes to “gaming,” people have many choices. That word evokes a lot of different ideas in people’s heads, and, while most people reading this may immediatly jump to “video gaming,” there are entire populations that are much more likely to think of board games. Search on YouTube for “Crossfire” if you don’t believe me; it’s well-regarded as the most awesomely-hyped board game to ever exist. Anyone out there remember Mouse Trap or Life? Man, I feel really old when I recall how many deadly-deals I made for people’s souls and their hard-earned cash due to capitalism squared in Monopoly. However, our focus today belongs to the wordsmith’s game, Scrabble.
The aft-returning adage, “easy to learn, hard to master” was this game’s selling point in many respects; spell a word with your given letters, and get points. Fast forward to today, and the game has become culturally complicated and gorged upon a fanbase of Scrabble Masters and Scrabble Dictionaries made for the game, and there’s even online and real-life Scrabble tournaments. And since most of the video game versions either weren’t particularly good, or fell into obscurity due to Hasbro typically releasing titles en-masse, those games aren’t really worth most people’s time. PopCap, however, decided to meld the same basic concept with a slimy, yet knowledgeable, bookworm named Lex in “Bookworm Adventure.” Clearly not to be outdone by “Puzzle Quest,” the player uses letters as weapons, traveling through three books of various genres and archetypes. The recently released sequel, “Bookworm Adventures 2″ builds on the concept of the original.
Spelling words causes Lex to do damage through his various attack animations, the player is challenged to defeat every enemy using larger and larger words, starting with three letters. As more letters are used, Lex will praise you, and give a reward of a jeweled tile, which have special effects when used in a word, such as poisoning a target or healing the bookworm’s own HP. Other items confer effects that include potions, which increase power for a turn, and purify Lex and the letterboard of status effects. Finally, there are companions which provide effects over a set number of turns. For those who aren’t exactly an English Major, or even word-game inclined, that might look for a little “assistance” by doing some outside searching, you might run into a problem; several words aren’t considered words by the game itself, including curses, adverbs, or modifiers, such as “bonkers” or “frustrating” which are actually words in the English language. To make it even more confusing, the game includes abbreviations which aren’t exactly vocabulary words. It’s quite irritating on multiple levels when I can’t spell a word that I know exists with my health running out, and no potions left. Sure, there are mini-games, but they’re just as challenging to master, since the game decides to play either The Price is Right or Boggle with you, just using a modified set of rules.
The music, while light, easy-going, and cheery, doesn’t really fit the mood while I’m crunching words and smashing a boss. There’s a stark contrast between the daunting slow beats and the action sequences where I’m plastering a monster’s brains out with Lex transformed into a fist. The game’s sound effects weren’t all that impressive either, as they basically boiled down to punching noises, the occasional foundation cracking, and a stupid jester laugh used for nearly every human opponent.
The game’s graphics aren’t really much to speak for either, outside of the fact that they were clearly meant for children and casual gamers. Unfortunately, it’s pretty apparent that, due to the game’s level of difficulty that children in general would have a problem with this game as is, especially when the longer words steadily become more important to the survival of the little bookworm. Having an adult around could make the game a very rewarding educational experience, just don’t tell the tykes that.
In fact, it would be better if the adult plays, while said kids wax on about the cute bookworm defeating well-known storybook characters. Oh, I’m sorry. I probably should have said “teaching them a lesson” instead.
“Bookworm Adventures: Volume 2″ was developed and published by PopCap games on July 30th, 2009 for the PC.