Sep 28, 2010
WordWise for Android is a casual two player word game resembling that grand daddy of word games known as Scrabble. Mobile multiplayer turn-based word games have been growing in popularity ever since the smash hit “Words With Friends” was released on Apple’s iOS platform. Words With Friends has yet to port over to Android but that hasn’t stopped developers from riding the gravy train.
While each of the games from this genre offer their own experience, WordWise has managed to do what its competitors have failed to do: offer cross platform play. This recent breakthrough is bound to spark curiosity and so, without further ado, I present WordWise.
Wordwise was created by developer Derek James and his company Polyclef Software. Two versions are available in the Android Market: WordWise Pro and WordWise Free. Both offer the same game play with the exception of the “Free” version being free of course and limited to a 3 active game maximum. The free version lacks stats/leader boards and is also supported by ads.
WordWise Pro – As stated before, WordWise is a scrabble-type multiplayer, cross platform word game. The cost of the Pro version is .99 cents and boasts being able to play up to 100 separate games concurrently. Features include individual stats, leaderboards and push notifications. But the single best feature of this game is the ability to play with your Android friends or your iOS buddies (yes, we all have a couple of them).
When installing, the first thing you will notice is a long Christmas list of permissions to grant. Anytime anything wants this many permissions, I become uneasy. So naturally I go ahead and hit “OK” (with my eyes closed, of course). After install is complete you are asked to allow WordWise access to the account you have set up on your phone. Finally, after being defiled by relentless permissions, you are ready to play the game. Wait — I spoke to soon. Now WordWise is telling you to download a third party app “Air Mail” to be able to receive real time push notifications (!@#$%^&*). Thankfully, you can still play the game without installing Air Mail. Just hit “Cancel” when prompted to install and you will be taken to the start menu. Next, you have to hand over your wallet, car keys, PIN number, your grandmothers social security check and then maybe you can play the game — that last bit is a joke. Once logged in, you can choose from Main Menu, Accounts, Your Stats, and Leaderboard.
Main Menu – This will be your gaming headquarters. Invite players, accept/decline invites, play/view games already in progress or view past games. Each list is color coded to match current game status. This method makes for easier identification and quicker gameplay along with WordWise’s unique game list sorting. If you don’t notice anything changing make sure to hit the menu key and then refresh (you will be pressing refresh a lot).
Accounts – The account menu shows which account you are currently playing under. You can add/delete accounts and set your “nickname” (this is the name players will see).
Your Stats – When opening “Your Stats” you will be asked to sign in with your Google account. Once logged in you will be shown your nickname, the number of active games and Win-Loss-Tie statistics. Other statistics shown are “Top Games,” which lists games in which you scored your highest total points along with the opponent and date of game. Next is “Top Words,” which lists your top 10 highest word totals tabled into score, word, and date scored. You can also see the number of games in which you or your opponent had resigned.
Leaderboard – This is where you can view a list of WordWise’s top achievers. There are two top 10 lists consisting of “Top Games” and “Top Words.” Click on any game to view a summary of that game including players’ nicknames, date, turns made, words played and points scored. The top games and scores are obvious collusions amongst lame cheaters which is discouraging and will hopefully be addressed by the developer.
If you have ever played Scrabble, then you will have no problem understanding WordWise. The object is to score as many points as possible by forming words using individual lettered tiles. Words can only be played across or down (similar to a crossword) and must be at least 2 letters in length. For those unfamiliar with scrabble type word games make sure to read the in-game instructions which can be found by pressing your phone’s menu key.
The first step is to invite a friend or a random player to a game. To invite a friend, you simply input their email address (they must have a google account along with a supported device) and an invite will be sent to them. If you choose to invite a random player, the WordWise server will search for a player who is also searching for a random opponent (this can take up to 15 minutes). Remember to refresh for updated game status. Game play starts with the invited player going first and then proceeds in an alternating fashion.
The game screen consists of a 15-by-15 scrabble-like grid complete with double/triple letter and word spaces. On screen components consist of your tile rack with current letters, “Play Word” and “Shuffle” buttons along with players, score, word attempts (circle next to name) and tile bag showing the number of letters remaining.
WordWise uses touch screen controls and may take some getting used to. Placing letters requires a drag and drop motion with some haptic feedback. To retrieve misplaced tiles you must first double tap the screen to zoom. You can then drag the tiles to the correct space or return them to your pile. Another option is to “return all tiles to rack” by pressing your phones menu key. You can shuffle letters by using the “Shuffle” button or by shaking your handset. Words played are not final until you press the “Play Word” button. You will then be shown a summary which includes words formed, their validity (WordWise word list is based on SOWPODS) and points scored. Game speed is casual, but be warned, some opponents take the word “casual” to a whole new level. Be prepared to sometimes wait 2-3 days between moves (thank goodness for multiple game support). There are a couple different ways the game can end: once the tile bag is empty and a player has used their last tile, both players pass consecutively, or one player resigns.
Unlike other popular scrabble-type word games, WordWise does not support in-game chat. The only way to communicate with your opponent is through the server’s email client and is limited to 10 emails per game at 140 character per email. WordWise is not the most socially friendly of its genre category, but the developer is working on implementing in-game chat along with many other popular features.
As much as I like WordWise, I have to admit it needs some fine tuning, I have chatted with Derek James about common complaints and future features of WordWise and he was nice enough to answer all of my questions. He remains committed to the improvement and future of WordWise and continues to push forward while addressing users concerns and suggestions, one of which was the overwhelming demand for cross platform play.
Overall, if you are like me and enjoy scrabble-like word games you should enjoy WordWise. It’s one of the top games of its genre available to Android users and with constant improvements and cross platform breakthrough, I say it’s worth the .99 cents. If you don’t agree, you can always downoad the Free version. Now let the Android vs Apple word wars begin!