Chances are high that if you've ever been asked by a new iPhone owner which games they should download, you'll have included PopCap's Bookworm at least somewhere on the list. It was an instant word-play classic on release, combining raw prowess of vocabulary with tile-chasing strategy - it's never gone out of fashion.
Between the release of that game and 2013, however, there's a different business model in town - one that's built around social connectivity, and with a veil of zero-cost accessibility laid over it. As with Zynga's most famous titles, Bookworm fans can now juggle multiple, turn-based matches against Facebook friends or random opponents and - in theory - never find themselves short of a new match-up to play.
The way that you interact with other players isn't the only thing that's changed with Bookworm Heroes, though. In this new edition of the game, players face off against each other using an avatar hero, building their highest value word from the letters available from their own personal grid. Each hero avatar has its own special abilities and special tiles too, so one is capable of smashing up an opponent's tiles, reducing their points value in the process, while another can earn back a little bit of health by playing certain letter tiles.
Once you've built your greatest word, your avatar will march over to your opponent and head into a nicely animated combat mode, pummeling your enemy with damage that's relative to the value of your word's letters. Once that's finished, it's over to your opponent for their counter-attack, and a victor emerges when the other has lost their entire health bar. There's no time pressure to conclude your round once it's begun - a pity - but it is very fun.
So, this particular Bookworm game is free to download and fun to play, but how does the freemium model for the game affect gameplay? Rather badly, as it turns out. To create a game, you'll need to spend some of the silver currency you start with on putting a character into play - if you want to add a supporting character for a competitive edge, you'll need to spend even more money.
That cash-pile runs out quickly though, and should you find yourself playing against an opponent who's slow to respond, it won't be long until you've grown bored and moved onto something else altogether. You receive silver currency for creating words and participating in matches, but it's really not enough, and the push to the in-app purchase store is inelegant to say the least.
Bookworm Heroes is a tremendously fun word game, and it's one that's packed full of fun characters, special abilities and addictive gameplay. But when you produce a game that makes even Zynga looks generous, you really have to wonder if there isn't still a little extra balancing to be done.Download Bookworm Heroes (iOS)
What's Hot:A fun and fresh twist on the usual Bookworm gameplay, with plenty of unique characters and abilities to fight with.
What's Not:The currency limitation for starting new games becomes grating very quickly.