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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 27, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
From PopCap Games, makers of the fun and addictive Zuma and Plants vs Zombies, comes Bookworm, another challenging puzzle game for casual players. It's a good way to work your brain as well as make the time go faster on commutes, while waiting at the doctor's office, or exercising on the treadmill.

The idea is simple. The goal is to string together tiles to form words of 3 letters or more. The longer the word, the bigger the score. A free Flash version is available on PopCap's website, but the DS version has many more features, like an Arcade Mode, Library, and 2 Players Mode. You only need 1 copy of the game to play against a friend. In the Library, you can keep track of your stats like how many words you created, secret word books, and room backgrounds you've unlocked. All together, there are 20 secret books to unlock, with 12 words each. It's very hard to get all the words, and there's no reward of any kind for completing each book, besides bonus points. You don't get any special animation, fun pictures, or unlockable secret options. Zilch.

One thing I don't like is that you have to hold the DS sideways, like a book. Very few games do this (most notably, Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword and Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!) and there's really no reason for it. The gameboard could simply have been arranged horizontally to allow ambidextrous play. I find it less comfortable to hold the DS upright, and it also prevents lefties from playing.

Another big design flaw is the harsh penalty system. Burning tiles will start falling with increasing frequency if you make 3 letter words. The chance of being penalized rises with each level, and by 10+, I'm getting penalized almost with 100% probability. If you don't clear them right away, they'll start burning down your column of tiles. When they reach the bottom, it's game over. It is not explained in the manual that the game penalizes you for short words. At lower levels, this is infrequent, but at higher levels (9+), this becomes a huge turn-off, as almost every 3-letter word causes a fire tile to appear, making this game unfit for younger kids with limited vocabularies. Sometimes 4-5 letter words cause fire tiles. Then it degenerates into a frustrating game of clearing the penalty letters first instead of leisurely clearing letters to make words at your own pace.

To make things worse, the letters are not weighted, so you're just as likely to get a tough letter like J, V, Qu, X, Y, or Z as you are to get a commonly used and easier to combine letter like R, S, T, L, N, E. For example, I got 3 burning V's in a row in one game. When you clear a column of letters, if you are going to be penalized, the red tile will always appear at the bottom of the new stack of falling letters. If you are stuck, you can scramble the board an unlimited number of times, but this penalizes you by also dropping burning tiles. By level 10, I'm getting 4 burning tiles with each scramble. At higher levels, I got 6 or 7 burning tiles. If you need to scramble the board, that means you are stuck with bad letters that you can't combine. But scrambling causes you to be put in an even worse situation. A scramble is seldom ever helpful. It doesn't simply rearrange all the existing letters on the board. It shuffles all the tiles randomly into new letters. Secondly, it is counted as a turn, so any burning letters already on the board will burn down 1 block after the scramble. I find this sadistic and not fun at all. Players should not be punished for playing. A better system would have been to give you a finite number of scrambles (like 3), which you can use at any time without penalty, then let you earn more as you hit score milestones (say, every 20,000 points).

Unlike the online version, there's no way to tell how much the letters are worth. The web version has dots under the letters to indicate their worth (1 to 3 dots). The DS version only shows you the points after you create a word.

Lastly is the strange dictionary where words like "Luo (an African tribe), haka (traditional Maori dance), loa (Haitian voodoo spirits), lek and som (unit of money in Albania and Kyrgyzstan, respectively) are accepted, but words like "India", "Rome", "dork", and "dong" (Vietnamese currency unit) and not. "Moo" (cow sound) is accepted, but "poof" and "Saturn" are not. With certain words, a definition pops up, but I am at a loss to explain how these words were chosen. Usually, these are very obscure 3-4 letter words, like "qua", international monetary units, or little-known animals, and names of esoteric native peoples. "Vat" is defined as a tax (value added tax) instead of the more common meaning of "container" (like "a vat of chocolate"). No definition is given for longer words.

Verdict: it's fun for a little while, but gameplay gets very repetitive. The overly-punishing penalty system really drags down my rating, and makes this game too difficult for younger players. At higher levels, it's no longer very much fun due to the frequency of the fire tiles and lack of a rich reward system. The music is also monotonous and somewhat irritating. It's very low-fi sounding and one of the percussion instruments just sounds like static. Overall, it's fun for maybe 30 minutes at a time only.
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on December 12, 2009
I love Bookworm online, as well as the deluxe version for PC and Mac, so I was very excited to try it on my DS, since I can take it anywhere. I am thrilled with it! Everything you love about Bookworm is here, along with a few extra fun things.

Create words from the adjacent tiles to clear them from the board and earn points and books to put on shelves in your library. As you earn books and fill the shelves, you fill up and complete rooms in your library. Each room has a different theme and you get a little bonus when each is finished. As you complete more rooms, your library expands. You can visit the rooms on your map and see what you have accomplished!

My favorite new and challenging feature is collecting books and words. There are twenty books, each containing twelve words. When you create a word in one of the books, the book is unlocked and you can see the rest of the words needed to complete the book. For example, I unlocked the book "Insects" by making the word "ant". To complete the book I need to create "bee, wasp, roach, ladybug", etc. This is not as easy as it seems!! There are many fun collections to complete, and while I haven't finished a book yet, I imagine there will be a fun bonus when I do! Books are easily accessible from the main screen so you can check to see which books still needs words, and what words are needed.

My only teeny tiny complaint with this game is barely a blip on the radar, however I'm just a slight bit annoyed that when clearing tiles an extra tap is required after the word is finished. On the computer version, holding the mouse button while making words, and then just releasing it will clear the word. While holding the stylus to make the word on the DS, it has to be lifted and then tapped at the end of the word. Very picky, but it is what it is.

There is not a left-handed option on this game that I can find. That seems an obvious necessity, but for some reason was not included in this version.

Overall this game is fantastic, I am completely addicted!!
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VINE VOICEon January 17, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Thought this would be something educational for our five year old grandson. He is a DS lover and most of the games he has are age appropriate for him. When this arrived and I read the cover etc. I was convinced this should be for older children who are further along on the learning curve. The previous reviews left me feeling a little "iffy" as apparently some kids take to this and others not so well. When he first started playing, I think he was getting a little frustrated and was concerned that it was a waste of money. I spent just a small amount time with him hoping to instill a bit of confidence. Was not much longer and he was off and on his own, having a lot of fun. Fun while being challenged and learning at the same just seems to make this a great item for kids. I know all kids will not find this at the same action fun level as other games and possibly frustrating. Spending the time with him at the very beginning, I think, made this a very worthwhile and fun experience. Hoping you will find this as rewarding as I.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon December 29, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
..and come out an hour later. How do I know when I really like a game? I sit down to play for 5-10 minutes and 60-90 minutes pass before I realize how long I've been at it. Bookworm is one of those games!

I wasn't familiar with the online version of this game, but I do like word games so it was an easy choice to get this one. I started playing it the day it arrived and it's a great game. So far I've stuck to playing the "Classic" version. It consists of a board filled with letters that you make words out of by connecting the tiles. Each time you make a word the letters disappear and you begin to fill up your bookshelves. As you advance to different levels, "fire" and "bonus" tiles will appear. The goal is not to let any of the "fire" tiles reach the bottom and burn your library up. (Which results in game over) Currently I'm at 30% finished and I've probably played 4-5 hours now, but there are still several other levels/versions to play so I'm not at all concerned that it's too easy of a game to finish.

I have had my Nintendo DS Lite for just about 9 months now and out of the 30 games I have this one ranks up there with my favorites: The Quest Trio and Touchmaster. Both are puzzle/strategy games that don't require much more than basic game skills to enjoy. It seems that this game is probably going to be popular with an "older" crowd and yes at 33 years old I'll happily put myself into that group.
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VINE VOICEon January 11, 2011
For quite some time now I have been caught in the middle of a "war" between my grandkids and my "kids" (now all grown up and raising kids of their own). The grandkids love fun, adventure, computer games, almost anything Nintendo and of course the DSi(s). On the other hand their parents are constantly giving me flak about the grandkids playing too many games, not learning anything, etc. So I bought this and several other educational games as a way to satisfy both sides. We are very satisfied with the game and we have had it over a year. The grandkids are doing great in school and I believe buying them games like this has helped. The product description is accurate. That seems to be the trick with my 7 grandkids; make learning fun and some type of adventure and they will soak up knowledge like a sponge. Otherwise learning is boring to them and they quickly lose interest. Very pleased. 1st Grade granddaughter by the way is reading at a 2nd-3rd Grade level.
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on February 25, 2010
Let me say first, I love Bookworm. I have it on my PC and was excited about the DS version. So much fun to play, just like the PC version. BUT, you have to play this with the DS held vertically, with the touch screen side on the right. This makes awkward play for left-handed players. I still love the game, I just wish game developers would consider us lefties.
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on January 16, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have spent many hours playing the online version of this game. On the pc, with a mouse, gameplay is pretty much perfect. You can click and drag to form your word, double-click the last letter, hit enter on the keyboard ... there are many techniques to select and enter words.

The DS port is a good implementation, but with a couple of flaws. First, note that the game loads in portrait mode. This is not my favorite way to play, but you have no choice in how the game loads. The worst flaw in gameplay is that it takes a hard second tap on the last letter to enter the word, with an annoying lag. Unselecting your whole word is very irritating, also with some lag ... more than once I've input the word I was trying to unselect because of the lag in the screen updating.

There is Classic Mode, which is untimed and you can build up huge scores; Action mode, with burning tiles (this is a blast as the fiery tiles burn down through the columns, and the pace accelerates the further you go, very action-packed), MultiPlayer mode (Host, Join, or Host a Single Card game); Library, where you can view charts, Hall of Fame (scores) stats on word usage, see completed Books (part of opening new word lists), and see your library blueprint. There's quite a lot going on, if you want to have depth of gameplay. If you just want to play Boookworm, there is that too.

Options are for Music Volume and Sound Volume. There is a How to Play section, and the mandatory list of Credits.

Building the library is an interesting feature, but the benefits are not obvious or intuitive.

The word of the day is a bit of a mystery ... it appears before the game starts and I have yet to see any point in it. I forget it about 2 minutes after starting a game.

The worst feature, so bad it should have been left out, is multiplayer with single card download. It takes forever to load the game on the second device, then you get to play one round and that's the end. For skilled wordgame players, this results in about 4 minutes of dead time (the download) for about 2 minutes of play. If you want to go again, well, plan to invest another several minutes for the download. Please, leave out such buzzkills in the future.

All in all, as a true implementation of Bookworm, this is a worthwhile investment. You can play a long time in the Classic mode, and Action mode adds excitement to the game. Stylus implementation is a bit awkward. And single card multiplayer is no more than an annoyance.
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on January 18, 2010
I love the original Bookworm game for the PC. I have the Gameboy version of this game and it is great. I bought this version for the DS expecting it to be the same. I don't know why, but they changed the orientation of this version so it has to be played with the DS in a vertical (portrait) layout. I am left handed, and it is not comfortable to play it in this way. I wish they would have included a way to change the orientation.
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on April 2, 2010
Don't get me wrong: this game is addictive. Just trying to find words is engrossing enough, but then there's the added challenge of trying to find words that are in the books. Add to that the fire tiles, word of the day, and bonus words, and you get a word puzzle game that has it all. Even the little worm that greets you is cute and likeable. I especially like that this game accepts nearly any word you can think of; some word games are so picky and limited in their vocabulary that you are bored and frustrated very quickly. Because of the vast vocabulary of the game, the possibilities are endless.

Another great perk of the game is you can play as little or as much as you want. Spend a couple of hours or play a few minutes waiting for a bus, it's up to you.

But, and maybe it's just me, there is one big annoyance with this game and that is its very sensitive touch interface. Too often it takes a near jab to the screen to select a letter and even then, it's no guarantee it will work. Other times, the game will only accept feather light taps and anything more than that will select and deselect the letter several times in an instant. It's all right if you're tapping a letter in the middle of a word, but all too frequently, I have had the game suddenly decide the word I am spelling is finished. Say you are spelling out "brother," a hard-to-find word that is in the family book. Just before you tap the final letter, the game declares the word is "bro" and you have to spend another frustrating hour trying to line up the right letters again (usually only to have them get burned up by a "Qu" fire tile that is surrounded by consonants). Still other times, if you fail to tap a letter absolutely dead center, the game will select a neighboring letter instead. These glitches don't always occur - they alternate just enough that you never know how to tap the screen until it's probably too late.

If it weren't for the glitchy touch interface, I would adore this game. Instead, it's only a love-hate thing.
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VINE VOICEon May 27, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Book Worm is a basic and fun word game for Nintendo DS. If the DS is your only gaming system then it might be worth a look. However, if you can play games on a smartphone or other portable device, there are dozens of titles that are more fun and a lot cheaper (only a few dollars or in some cases free).

As for the game itself, the controls are fine and it's easy to play. If word games are your thing then give it a shot. If you also game on Android, iPhone, or other mobile platforms, chances are that you can get a cheaper downloadable game that's more entertaining.
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