I've been taking a look at some game portals on Facebook recently and all complaints aside, I've managed to discover a game or two here and there that has captured my attention.
MindJolt brings us Word Spasm. It's like Boggle in a number of ways, and the leader board takes me back (almost) the the incredibly fun times that were Griddle before it got yanked.
Word Spasm is like a mash up between Boggle, Bookworm Tiles, and a gem matching game (forget the name, but it might be Jewel Quest) where you have to fill in a certain number of board tiles before you can move to the next level.
On the plus side:
- Games are quick, so spoiled/sub par turns don't feel that painful (and there are easy ways to fail as I'll note below).
- Keyboard accelerator is present. I'm amazed that there are still word games out there that do not let you type words in.
- Leader boards are reasonably well designed to encourage both social play with known friends, and to provide "stranger" top scores to inspire the more hard core competitor (like me).
- The keyboard accelerator is suboptimal when it comes time to choosing a particular letter path. Unlike in Boggle where you just need to submit valid words (doesn't matter which 'L' tile you use if there are 2 or 3 valid ones), this game sometimes makes you care which tile you use when there are multiple options because you need to make sure that a certain percentage of tiles are used at least once. There is an option to Tab through various valid permutations, but this is frustrating and inefficient -- especially when time is running down.
- When time starts running out, the game just gets plain unplayable. A huge countdown timer displays over the playing surface. Although it is translucent, it is RED AND SCARY and completely distracts me. It effectively means that I hit the Game Over point when there's 10 seconds left because I can't play at all during that time.
- Although the basic rules are fairly simple to learn, there's no good way to uncover some of the scoring rules either officially or through embedded forums and discussion groups. Certainly I can try to optimize my score by trying different strategies, but I'd rather have a few hints or be able to chat with fellow players to collectively discuss the scoring system as opposed to having to break it down systematically.
- The lack of forums and discussion groups also highlights the real lack of community features here. I became completely addicted to Griddle precisely because there was always a group of people playing and we could briefly chat and congratulate each other between each round as we were checking the results of the previous round.
- More of an annoyance: The "gratz" messages the game displays each time you complete a level have spelling and grammatical errors. Kind of ironic for a word game :)