Version tested: iPad
Turn-based word games are so last season. What's that you say? Still playing Letterpress? That's great, Grandad, glad you can fit it in between jousting and lute practice.
I'll be over here, playing the next big thing while I hang out with the cool kids. By next big thing, I mean Wordament. And by cool kids, I mean other middle-aged women and people who have never found anything useful to do with their English Literature degree other than play video games about spelling.
Actually, Wordament isn't new at all. It was first released for the Windows Phone platform in April 2011. But the iOS version came out just last month, complete with Xbox Live functionality. In other words, players sign in with their gamertags and there's no Game Center business at all. It's the first iOS game to feature Xbox Live Achievements.
Exciting stuff! Except it isn't, obviously; it's just an excuse to write about Wordament and justify why we haven't bothered before now. Frankly, I couldn't care less whether this is the first iOS game to feature a gif of Microsoft and Apple sixty-nining while Sony and Nintendo high-five over their backs. There are much better reasons to write about Wordament: it's brilliant, it's addictive and it's unique.
Well, sort of unique. The game is played on a grid (Boggle, then) of letter tiles with different point values (Scrabble, then), and the object of the game is to spell out as many words and score as many points as possible (every word game ever, then).
The twist is that Wordament is a massively multiplayer online word game. Thousands of players from around the world compete simultaneously, all on the same grid and with the same two-minute time limit. At the end of each round, players are shown a leaderboard displaying where they stand in the global ranking, how they compare to any Xbox Live friends playing and which words they missed. There's also a "Frenemies" leaderboard showing your friends' high scores of the day, in case you're not online at the same time.
Because the game isn't turn-based, there's no waiting around for opponents to have their go. At the same time, there's no pressure to take your own turn. This eliminates the problem of Wordament becoming another annoying chore on your to-do list, along with Letterpress, SongPop, Draw Something, Words With Friends, Scramble With Friends, Hanging With Friends, Every Other Idea Anyone's Ever Had for a Game With Friends, etc.
There are some other neat touches, like the occasional bonus missions that the game throws in. These reward you for finding special words or using a particular letter, and they add a welcome bit of variation.
But what really makes Wordament worth playing isn't the convenience factor or the extras. Nor is it the fact it's free, although that does make it excellent value for money. Nor is it the Xbox Live Achievements - I'd still be playing even if the only reward on offer was an arbitrary number which when added to a meaningless score was supposed to signify my aptitude for performing pointless and repetitive tasks. Hang on wait.
The point is, Wordament is a fresh take on a classic formula that works brilliantly. It's my prediction for this year's next big thing. And I'm the person who forecast that 2011 would be the year of the dance game, and that 2012 would be the year of games about wild animals eating each other. 2013 is all about Wordament, friends. At least for the next fortnight.
9 / 10