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iPhone  header logo

Bookworm Heroes

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Spelling beat-'em-up

Product: Bookworm Heroes | Publisher: PopCap Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Multiplayer, Puzzle | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.2
Bookworm Heroes iPhone, thumbnail 1
PopCap is one of the best developers in the games business. No caveats: not "on mobile", or "making casual games". I mean to say that in the entire industry of interactive entertainment, I reckon PopCap is the bee's knees.

The team proves this once again with Bookworm Heroes, a word-creation game in a sea of word-creation games that manages to cut through the waves and come ashore on Fun Island, thanks to PopCap's trademark positivity and presentational prowess.

"Tatsumaki Senpukyaku". "Can you use it in a sentence?"

The premise is incredibly straightforward. You've got 16 letters in front of you, and you need to create a word from them to score points. I suspect that the folks at PopCap enjoy playing a lot of Scrabble.

Also fighting games.

That's the left hook you didn't see coming: Bookworm Heroes is a two-player game in which you hire a hero and a pet before beginning, and then commence battle by trading blows based on the quality of the word you just spelled.

IAPs explained
10,000 Coins will cost you 69p / 99c. Each hero costs 1500 Coins to hire, and each pet costs half that (at 750 Coins). Is that value for money?

Maybe not, but you can at least gain coins naturally through play, and also buy a pet called Harry for £1.49 / $1.99 that boosts the number of Coins you receive in a match.

I'd purchase Harry if you feel like you're going to get invested in the game.
Heroes and pets cost Coins to hire, though you'll always have the option to pick one of the former for free. Both heroes and pets have special abilities - think of them as special moves in Street Fighter.

Take the character of Razor: her Signature Tiles are Cyber Tiles, whereby using a short word is more profitable than a long one, and her Ultimate Skill allows you to steal tiles from your opponent's board. Knowing when to put these into effect can affect your fortunes drastically.

Presentation is top notch, as you'd expect of a PopCap game. Characters leap at one another to fight, and though their special moves aren't as spectacular as the ones in, say, a King of Fighters, they're inventive and fit each combatant well. Menus are clear and you can use the UI confidently and swiftly.

My fight money

Your opponents may be cartoons, but the people controlling their destinies are very real. There are loads of options to take on your friends, with plenty of social integration, or you can fight randoms.

There are a few niggling issues, the most notable of which is that I couldn't find a way of skipping animations. Sometimes I just wanted to see the results of each player's turn, but Bookworm Heroes insisted on showing me the full sequence of attacks anyway.

You're also limited - unless you spend Coins - on who you play as. It's obvious that this is where PopCap is looking to make money, but I would have preferred the option to buy my favourite character outright.

And Bookworm Heroes is scarcely more inventive than your standard word game, so if you're sworn off the genre forever then this won't change your mind.

These things aside, Bookworm Heroes is super. It looks as lovely as any other PopCap release, and if you've a few friends who can't get enough of using letters to spell words for points in mobile games, you'll find a lot of fun here.
Bookworm Heroes
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 1 May 2013
This is Scrabble X Street Fighter X Facebook, and it plays as good as that sounds. It's still not mass appeal enough to turn the heads of people disinterested in word games, though
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