I’ll freely admit I was a late bloomer when it came to Scrabble. In the pantheon of family Christmas games, classics such as Trivial Pursuit, Cluedo and Sorry! took precedence. When I was finally introduced to its delights, I found it to be engaging and entertaining, yet strangely lacking. Games were consistently over too quickly, there was never enough space on the board, and you were always, ALWAYS one letter shy of that epic, game-ending word that would have your opponents struggling to lift their jaws from the floor. If you’ve felt the same, you’d do well to check out FastWord, the addictive new iOS app from new indie developer 5Three&Me. It’s fast, it’s furious and it’s a whole lot more fun than the well-trodden board game from which it takes its cues.
Emerging as a curious hybrid of Scrabble and a traditional word search puzzle, FastWord has an interesting origin story. Its creators are a father and son team, comprising of Ryan and his five-year-old Scrabble prodigy Christian (alias Mr. Five). After consistently beating his Dad at the game, the two came up with the idea for FastWord, and spent the next year or so developing it. ‘A game imagined by a five-year-old’, you’re no doubt thinking, ‘why would I want to play that?’. Well you can stop right there, just stop it! This game is good. It’s very good. Not to mention challenging. And fun. We can safely say young Christian has a bright future ahead of him (which is not to take anything away from his Dad!).
The gameplay is thus: you enter into a wordsmith battle with an opponent; it could be random or it could be a friend of yours you’ve previously connected with. A single game comprises two rounds; Leading and Chasing. The objective is to create words from the letter grid, scoring points for both the length and the quality of the word. However, your opponent is also using up letters as you go, making them disappear from your grid, so the race is most certainly on; you must adjust your tactics for both of the separate stages. Do you go for longer words and take more time, or rapidly build up a collection of two-to-four-letterers? You take your turn and wait for the other player to respond, which adds a fun element of cat-and-mouse to the proceedings.
The interface is lovely and intuitive, and the muted colour scheme deserves a mention, if only because apps can sometimes get that so very wrong. The gameplay is a triumph and frequently addictive; like the similarly brilliant TriviaCrack, the thrill of competing against living people goes a long way towards securing longevity for the game. Also, something worth noting; dare you wish to play the Scrabble whiz-kid, he’s freely available to add, under the pseudonym MrFiveFastWord. Step up if you think you’re hard enough.
Scrabble over to the iPhone store to test your wordsmith skills out today for free!