It could be down to the fact that I absolutely HATED my maths teacher, but at school I was always more of an English guy. Whereas I dreaded sitting down to listen to grouchy behemoth Mrs Martin prattle on about right angles and square roots, I relished my hour of listening to the gorgeous Miss Mills teach me about similes, metaphors and…what was that, I was lost in your eyes? Teenage crushes aside, all of this has prepared me well enough to confidently take on Scrabble-esque word game Hooked On Words, the new time-killer for language boffins.
Recently undergoing a massive update and billed as ‘one of the most comprehensive games on the App Store’, Hooked On Words currently has almost 2 million players and once I started exploring the fun game, I could see why.
The soundtrack is fun and upbeat and there are pleasant SFX to punctuate each move, there are now six distinctive play modes; the most appealing for social gamers will be the online multiplayer in which you battle other players and compete for the top leaderboard slot. As you can access the multiplayer mode via Facebook, it makes bragging about your top scores even easier (but hiding your failures a lot harder).
The other five modes are in single player and they are divided into Standard, Timed, Collapse, Scramble and the new Extended version. They are all based around the theme of a word search, with you swiping your thumb across the letter tiles to form words. The longer the words, the more points you get; if you include any bonus tiles, your points will skyrocket and if you manage to get two bonus tiles in the same word, or even get an 8-letter word, your points will go through the roof.
Depending on which game you play, the tiles will either disappear, stay the same (but you can’t then make the same words), or get replaced by other tiles that drop tom the roof. If you are on a timed mode, you have to have your wits about you; however, if the clock isn’t running, you can add a ‘Connect 4’ element to the game and try to bump down certain tiles with smaller words so that you can join a really long word and score big.
One element that I really like is the ability to save a game and upload them to iCloud; if you are on a winning streak, it’s worth continuing at a later date, so the app will automatically ask you if you want to enter your saved game when you next access it.
The sheer amount of words that you are allowed is astonishing; there are dozens of two-letter words that I actually had no idea counted as words until I accidentally swiped them; I must confess to slashing at the screen randomly in a moment of frustration and discovering that this approach occasionally worked better than trying to figure out proper words myself!
There are quite a few adverts in the free version, but this can be remedied with a premium update, along with other in-app purchases; the developers have been pretty clever about the advertising, however, as you can earn more turns by watching videos; this honest, cards-on-the-table form of advertising appeals to me over annoying sidebars and constant pop-ups etc.
The new layout of Hooked On Words will please old fans and attack new ones; it’s smoother, players can track the statistics of their previous gams across all five modes and you can now earn tokens just by playing against your friends. I’ve been climbing up the leaderboard and hoping to see a ‘Ms Mills’ avatar somewhere in the multiplayer mode; oh, she’d be so proud…