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Destructoid review: WordFu

3:40 PM on 03.26.2009 // Brad Nicholson

You can’t spell “bubbles” with Locust viscera in Epic’s Gears of War 2, and you can’t scribble “pregnant” on a wall in Monolith’s F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. Even if you could spell the words, neither game would reward you for the feat. Intense violence doesn’t mix well with the fine art of constructing words.

Thankfully, there’s an option for word people. I recently finished ngmoco’s WordFu, a spelling title that takes the Boggle formula and throws out the majority of the rules. It’s quick and simple -- and sometimes dirty, depending on how vast your nasty vocabulary is.

Hit the break for the review.

WordFu (iPhone)
Developer: ngmoco
Publisher: ngmoco
Released: February 25, 2009
MSRP: $1.99

The first word I spelled in ngmoco’s WordFu was “dildo.” I gulped a giggle and looked around the room anxiously to make sure no one had witnessed my scandalous assemblage of consonants and vowels. I returned to the game shortly thereafter, safe, and managed to spell ten more words with the time I had left. Without realizing that I had done so, I went into another match. And then I went into another, and another, and so on.

I was hooked at “dildo”; however, the game’s lightning-quick pace, streamlined design, and point-laden gameplay are certainly the anchors of my newfound addiction. WordFu is a twist on the Boggle formula. The goal of the game is to spell as many words as possible within a short time period from a selection of nine lettered blocks.

There aren’t any restrictions, either. You can spell a word with any order of blocks. And you can use a single block more than once in a construction. At the beginning of every round, you get twenty seconds to reroll the blocks the game randomly sets in front of you. It’s essentially Boggle Gone Wild, except the thrill doesn’t leave after the first time you boot it up.

Every word created becomes a gob of points. Larger words net bigger point totals, but as you progress through a timed match, several bonuses help you reach massive totals with tiny words. One bonus block in particular doubles point totals for a limited amount of a time. There’s also a bonus that freezes the clock, which certainly helps when you find yourself spelling “what” three times in a row.

Once the timer ends, the match is over. But you probably won’t want to quit. New, unknown letters may give you the opportunity for wicked scores and a chance to smash your highest totals. I’ve put off hours of work thanks to the points and how damn easy it is to get into the next match.

As you may have guessed, WordFu has an oriental flavor, but it’s entirely overblown. Every time you spell a word or move through a menu option, some karate sound blasts from the speakers. It’s highly annoying after a few minutes and definitely something you’ll find yourself turning off soon.

Once you turn off the sounds -- the oriental-style text and backgrounds are permanent fixtures, unfortunately -- you’re going to have a good time. And at the end of the day, that’s all you can ask for from a title. WordFu is quirky, but the gameplay is silky smooth and ultra-addicting. If you’re a dude who loves spelling, or just needs something to eat the time, give this a purchase.

Score: 8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)


Brad Nicholson,
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