Couplo Review

Couplo Review

May 15, 2014

Popular mobile games generally fall into two categories—games that help serve as an escape from the grind of daily life by providing mindless entertainment and games that put your brain muscles to work by throwing challenging puzzles at you. Word games are part of the latter group, forcing you to scan your own personal dictionary in order to rack up high scores.

Couplo is a word game by Last17, but unlike another well-known mobile game that uses letter tiles, it is a strictly solo experience. Players are given a board filled with colored letter tiles and must connect at least three tiles in order to form words to score points. Tiles can connect in any direction, and players can earn bonus points by making words out of the same colored tiles.

To make matters more difficult, entering words that don’t exist will have a negative impact on your score. This causes some frustration as users will opt to play it safe by not entering words they think could possibly not be a word at all, and there are also words that the game does not recognize.

There are three modes of play in Couplo. Time Trial is as simple as the game gets and nicely sums up the game’s premises. Players have 60 seconds to score as many points as possible using any combination of letters on the board.

The game’s bread and butter is the Challenge mode, which requires players to perform certain tasks on their board. For instance, a challenge asks players to score 150 points using only words with three letters. It sounds simple enough, but players will quickly find out how their brains perform under pressure.

Couplo’s biggest weakness is its difficulty. Even early puzzles in Challenge mode feature difficult levels that will take dozens of tries to complete. This is undoubtedly part of the game’s appeal, but it can also lead frustrated users to give up on the game before experiencing its addictive nature.


While completing challenges is the true substance of Couplo, actually figuring out what the challenge is can be quite a challenge in itself. Challenges have brief names such as “Vowel Play” and “Colour-full” that require trial and error before realizing what the actual challenge is. Most challenges are simple enough to figure out, but some could benefit from a description.

Depending on your device, it can also be difficult to connect tiles by swiping across the touchscreen. Players will inevitably connect tiles they did not mean to touch, wasting valuable seconds. Couplo can be played much more comfortably on the larger screen of a tablet.

The game is free for all to install, but there are microtransactions for more serious players. Tournament mode, which pits players in a worldwide competition in which all players use the same board and compete to get the highest score in 60 seconds, costs $2.50 to unlock. Other enhancements also must be purchased, including additional challenges. However, there is plenty of entertainment packed into the free version of Couplo.

While cheap players may not want to fork over some real-world cash to compete against friends in Tournament mode, users can trash talk friends by comparing stats and browsing through awards. Couplo keeps track of various stats in all games played. The game also supports multiple profiles on one device, allowing other users to pass challenges on their own.

IceBurgers Review

IceBurgers Review

Oct 25, 2013

IceBurgers is an environmental tale. Two ships collide in the Antarctic, spewing burgers and letters, and a penguin has to clean it up. Alrighty.

Interestingly enough, what makes this game unique is what probably is its best feature: the lack of frills. It rocks a simple motif and features even simpler gameplay, and, as such, can be a formidable time waster.

The gameplay is an atypical mix of crossword puzzle and Scrabble. A square grid of 25 tiled letters makes up the playing area, and words are supposed to be created via swiping a finger across letters in fairly liberal fashion. When a word is formed, it lightens up and explodes, and the tiled letters are replaced randomly by falling tiles from ice2above.

Now, after the first word is formed, a penguin shows up as a placekeeper of sorts. It ends up at the tile that was occupied by the last letter of the last word formed. The kicker is that all subsequent word formed must start with a letter tile that is adjacent to the penguin. Since the penguin is almost always moving, this adds a degree of difficulty to the gameplay, as it isn’t possible to just spell a word anywhere at anytime; the places where a new word can emanate from in the grid are dependent on where the penguin is. On another level, this also opens the door to interesting strategy, as moving the penguin around to more optional spots can be quite the challenge.

The game UI is dressed in blue, with white accents. The animations are not explosive, but get the job done. As noted earlier, there are not too many visual distractions, and that helps with the gameplay to a degree.

All in all, the word that keeps popping up is “simple.” It’s easy to understand, and needs little prep to play. I say well done.

Wordcraft Review

Wordcraft Review

Sep 12, 2013

Wordcraft is a combo word game from Littlebigplay.

The game is an interesting mix of word games like Scrabble and crossword puzzles. The playing area is a rectangular grid made up of squared letter tiles set up in 8×13 fashion. The letters are random, and contain all the letter of the alphabet with varying probabilities. As in Scrabble, each letter has a number value that seems to be based on the use of the letter in the English language. Thus, E, T and A have the lowest values, and K, X, Q, J and Z have high values.

Also, there are specially colored bonus tiles: orange denotes a triple word score, green gives a double word and word1purple scores a triple letter. When combined, the multipliers work on each other.

The basic premise is to form words via adjacent tiles. Starting with the first letter, tapping and dragging through the letters forms the word for points. The rules governing movement are cool, and the white highlight line underscores this. Forwards, backwards, diagonal… and then some. It is possible to zig-zag across back over, go up and then down, and more. As long as the successive letters in the word attempted are adjacent and a used tile is not used more than once, a word can score points — as long as it a “real” word. Slick use of the bonus tiles can lead to huge point hauls. There are some tricks to learn, too. Making words with four or more words makes all those tiles get replaced, thereby giving one the opportunity to score more in theory. Otherwise, the letters are gradually depleted.

The game comes in in three modes. There is the “classic” mode, that keeps on going until the there are no more moves to be made; A “fastgame” mode that is dependent on a set number of moves, and a “limited” version that challenges one to rack up as many points as possible in exactly five minutes. The interface is clean, mostly minimalist, with a recording of the high score. Options include the ability to change the color of the tiles.

Classic mode, in my opinion, is almost too relaxed; I prefer the restricted modes. Still, the option to pick modes is welcome.

This is the perfect game to get lost in, and is fun on a social level.

PowerVocab Review

PowerVocab Review

Jul 12, 2011

Everyone wants to get smarter, but the best way to make people think you’re brainy is by using long words. It helps if those long words aren’t made up as well, and if you actually know what they mean. We can all slip antidisestablishmentarianism into the conversation, but it’s another thing entirely to do so correctly.

That’s where PowerVocab comes in. Not so much for the antidisestablishmentarianism conundrum, but for other, much more useful words. It’s a game that tests the breadth, width and depth of your vocabulary, throwing words and explanations at you, then giving you points for correct answers.

It’s a neat little system, and one that works quite well, especially because at the end of each round, you’re given the option to review your answers. Get any wrong and you can go back and find out what the word actually means, which in turn means you’ve learnt a new word. Congratulations, you’re a bit smarter than you were before.

The number of words you can learn appears to be pretty large, although in the early rounds repetition is pretty frequent. The app’s not that great looking either, with clunky menus and a distinctly mid-nineties design style. Those are minor flaws though, in what is a fun and helpful little application.

Learning is fun, that’s the message behind PowerVocab, and it’s a message that I wholeheartedly support. Any game or app that sets out to expand a person’s knowledge and horizons should be championed, doubly so when they do it as well as PowerVocab.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but for those who want to brush up their speaking and writing skills, it’s a really great download. It won’t make you a genius, but with a bit of practice, it might make people believe you’re a genius.