Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bookworm Adventures

This is not the typical game I usually include in this column but, being an educator at heart, I couldn't help being intrigued by its concept. What a great example of a game that people would find immersive but with a twist that you have a better chance for success if you build your vocabulary! What would be even better would be if teachers could use the game engine but supply the words that result in the highest hit level to overcome the game's villains that are attempting to destroy the Great Library. The game could also serve as a foundation for versions about particular historical periods or topics with accompanying reading assignments. The most powerful words would be those from the reading assignment.

Indystar E Technology Marc Saltzman:
In case you've never played "Bookworm," the core game play in "Bookworm Adventures Deluxe" involves a 4-by-4 grid of randomly placed letters and it's your job to create words out of them. Unlike PopCap's "Bonnie's Bookstore," the letters you click to make a word do not need to be adjacent to one another. The longer the word or the higher the letter value (think "Scrabble"), the more points you'll earn.

Our hapless hero is a tiny green worm named Lex (short for Lexicon, perhaps?), and in the main Adventure mode he is magically zapped into books to confront a threat to the Great Library. The tale spans 30 chapters in all, each with a different theme as our little bookworm traverses a huge map to confront enemies of all shapes and sizes.

Confused about how a word game mixes in fighting bad guys? Here's how it works:

While you create words with letters from the middle of the screen, Lex faces off against foes at the top, be they ancient Roman soldiers, mystical Sirens or sea serpents onboard a ship or even angry ewes.

Depending on the word you create, Lex charges his enemy and inflicts damage. The enemy then takes a turn and retaliates. If your word is just so-so, such as P-E-A-R-S, then you may only take away one heart (symbolizing health level) from above the enemy's head. But if it's a good one, such as Q-U-A-I-N-T or U-N-A-L-T-E-R-E-D, then expect to finish the monster off by taking away two-and-a-half or three hearts of a total of five. This game offers more than 150 different enemies, each with a unique look, fighting style and short description.
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