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Writer Rumble

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Words, words, words

Product: Writer Rumble | Developer: Feel Every Yummy | Publisher: GameFly | Format: iPhone | Genre: Card/ board game, Fighting, RPG | Players: 1-2 | Version: US | App version: 1.0
Writer Rumble iPhone, thumbnail 1
As someone who uses his command of the English language to pay his bills, I take an inordinate amount of pride in my vocabulary.

Going into Writer Rumble, I couldn't have been more excited to put my word skills to the test. I was ready to give this game a pithy sub-heading of "Revenge of the nerds!" and affix a shiny gold medal on the upper right portion of the screen. It's a word game and a fighter? How could it go wrong?

As both the virtual medal and pithy subheading are missing from this page, it's clear that Writer Rumble found a way.

Wordsmithing 101

The game sees you commanding one of a handful of great literary figures like Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Jane Austen, and Agatha Christie as they do battle with one another.

While your character fights and has flashy attacks, you don't control him in the traditional fighting game sense.

Instead, you trace your finger across the letters on a grid to form words that will launch attacks. Simple, three-letter words are the fighting game equivalent of a jab or light kick, while higher point value words like "stentorian" or "polysyllabic" are this game's hyper combos.

The gameplay is a mash-up between the venerable BlackBerry time-waster Word Mole and the Tetris/Capcom puzzle-fighter Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. It's an interesting and nerdy concept, but unfortunately it falls a bit flat - or procumbent - in the execution.

When words fail

The problems with Writer Rumble are twofold: its single-player and multiplayer portions are both frustrating in different ways.

During the single-player Survival mode you choose a literary titan and square off against stages of low-level enemy mobs. As the levels wear on, the enemies become progressively stronger and will close on you faster, making it difficult to form more elaborate words.

Instead, the most effective survival tactic is to mash out as many three- or four-letter words as possible in rapid succession, which is more or less the equivalent of button mashing.

Because words are formed by tracing a path between adjacent tiles, gameplay becomes difficult on a smaller iPhone screen if you have larger hands. I lost sight of the board mid-word several times, with little recourse but to go back to banging out three-letter words to stay alive.

In multiplayer, the game fares little better. Here the creeping hordes of enemies are replaced by a human opponent and you have a bit more time to focus on stronger, high-level words (assuming that your opponent isn't a three-letter word button-masher).

That's the theory, at least, but unfortunately the game's multiplayer servers seemed incapable of supporting a multiplayer match without mid-session crashes and dump outs.

Poe-try in motion

Writer Rumble is an extremely frustrating game, not least because it's close to being great.

If it worked the way it was supposed to, it could easily challenge asynchronous vocabulary games like Words With Friends at the height of their popularity.

Unfortunately, Writer Rumble doesn't work the way it's supposed to on either single-player or multiplayer modes. Add to that some sub-par voice acting and this game becomes a difficult one to recommend.
Writer Rumble
Reviewer photo
Matthew Diener | 5 December 2012
A fun concept that feels a bit rushed in execution. Keep an eye on it for future updates, as it might be a good game someday
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