ESPN Spelling Bee
Put those SAT words to good use in ESPN's drab looking but somewhat enjoyable spelling game.
An over reliance on spell check killed our ability to remember complex and even the simplest words, a horrible fact made worse with ESPN Spelling Bee. Much like the actual competition, the game's designers challenge us to correctly spell 400 words that range from "hey, we know that one" to "wow, we feel stupid". If you need to boost your vocabulary, playing this is much better than reading a dictionary.
Here's how it works. With Spelling Bee, the developers give you three chances to spell as many words as possible. In each round, the male announcer (ESPN's Trey Wingo) says the word and you have one minute to prove your intelligence (or lack thereof). To do this, you tap letters using the on screen keyboard and hit the Done button. Regardless of whether you get the word right or wrong, the game displays the correct spelling and Trey will congratulate or insult you.
If you get stuck, you have the option of asking him to repeat the word, see it used in a sentence, request the definition and finally, the origin (Slavic, for instance). On the downside, it's sometimes hard to make out what Wingo says. This proves frustrating with words from other countries, where hearing the first letter is crucial.
Each time you play, the game jumbles the 400 words to keep things somewhat fresh. Play ESPN Spelling Bee for a little while, though, and you're bound to see repeats. That said, we hope ESPN adds more words in future updates.
We'd also prefer a more robust presentation. While spelling bees aren't exactly the most exciting affairs, someone should've put music in the game and perhaps sound effects to spice things up. Instead, you're stuck with a bunch of static screens and a keypad. No 3-D characters or customizable pipsqueaks. There's an online leaderboard that shows how terrible you are compared to everyone else, but that doesn't make up for such a bare bones audio and visual package. A company like Gameloft, for example, would've done a better job.
For what it is, however, ESPN Spelling Bee is a decent way to learn new words and impress your peers. We just wish there was more too it; kids fainting, perhaps.
What's Hot: You'll boost your vocabulary, 400 words in random order each time you play, you can request a word's definition/origin and use in a sentence, costs .99 (limited time offer).
What's Not: We had trouble hearing some words, no music, irritating announcer.