Bookworm (DSiWare)

Game Review

Bookworm Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

A classic puzzler in its most basic form

PopCap has made quite the name for itself over the years as the go-to developer for supremely addictive casual games, so it's only natural for the company to worm their way onto Nintendo's handheld. The Bookworm series has been a staple of word game enthusiasts since first hitting browsers in January 2005, and now DSiWare patrons can get their fix.

Bookworm is a word-finder with a few twists. Holding the DSi book-style, players link together letter tiles on the touchscreen to form words at least three letters long, which then vanish off the grid and are replaced from the top. Special tiles make an appearance depending on how you're performing: if you keep knocking out high-scoring words you'll be rewarded with green, sapphire, gold and diamond tiles that can significantly boost a word's score. Burning tiles will frequent the playing field if, say, you continuously match three- or four-letter words. When in play, burning tiles torch their way towards the bottom of the grid one tile per turn; they're good for blazing through a large string of useless letters and will give you a score boost if used, but if they reach the bottom then it's Game Over, Man. If you feel the grid layout has you struggling to spell anything then you can shuffle it up, but you'll find yourself with more burning tiles this way.

The game is still super-addictive nearly five years on and remains one of the best word puzzlers across all platforms. It's really easy to get sucked into a longer-than-expected session and it's very rewarding when the planets align to let you spell out a particularly long word. You might even learn a thing or two as the game offers up a definition of a word you discovered.

The game keeps track of stats like your three highest-scoring and longest words as well as a tally of the lengths of words played, which lets you see just how reliant you are on those easy three-letter words. The high score list is pitifully small, keeping a record of only the three best. And since the game doesn't include multiple profiles, those who share a handheld won't know who scored what or be able to compare their vocabulary victories.

Other versions of Bookworm included Bonus Books, which are lists of a dozen or so words in a certain category (e.g. body parts or insects) that check off as you find them in play. It was a nice feature to give you a little something more goal-oriented to do, but sadly they are not included here. Nor is a Timed mode, leaving a few-frills "Endless" mode as the only way to play. The iPhone/iPod Touch edition includes these features and costs the same (if not less), and their absence makes the DSiWare version feel like a glorified version of the browser game instead of a serious portable contender. At least you can save and resume a session!

It's important to note that the full retail release is slated for next week in the US, so if you're interested in a fleshed-out Bookworm release you might want to just hold off for the time being. If you don't really care about the above mentioned frills, this is a good way to go.


Anyone looking to flex their vocabulary will certainly find a good time in Bookworm, although missing fun features hurts the longevity somewhat — if you want a fleshed-out version then wait a week for the retail release. It may not be the be-all version but it's still good fun for a reasonable 500 Points and is recommended to those looking for a quick-hit word puzzler on DSiWare.

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User Comments (17)




Hmm, can't decide whether to get the dsiware version or the retail version. When are both releases coming to the EU?

Thanks, good review



Percentful said:

I used to have this on my palm pilot, but it froze and crashed and I never got a new one. I might consider this, I like word games, but not puzzle games [there are some exceptions]



Objection said:

I got the iPhone version and it's pretty killer. The Timed Mode isn't really that fun, but I do enjoy the Bonus Books.



WolfRamHeart said:

Good review Panda. This sounds like a lot of fun but I'll probably pick up the retail release instead. PopCap makes some great games so I hope that we see a lot more from them in the future on the DS and Wii.



rpmurphy said:

It's important to note that even though this game is held book-style, there is no lefty option for this game.




Imported the NA retail version. Excellent game. A little light on content, but no real complaints. Improves on .the scrabble formula for me like the even more superior WordJong DS does. You're only missing the "action" and multiplayer modes in the dsiware version, which are good but inessential. Thus this dsiware version deserves an 8 at only 500pts!



Kyloctopus said:

This game can't keep me addicted for long, cause it's too boring. I don't know how can "that game" be good. I hate spelling. Although I'm good with big words but not small words.



xxx_Kirby_xxx said:

Darn, if this game was 200 points I'd totally get it.... I really want it.... But only allowed to buy 200 pointers. Drat. I really enjoy games like this. Maybe I'll get Extreme Hangman.... Haven't played a good word game in a while.



shaiy said:

I love Bookworm and find myself playing for hours on end. Very addicting!



Kitsune_Rei said:

I love the game, I have the DS cartridge version, but my main peeve is there doesn't seem to be a game save while you're playing! If you're like me, you go on forever, and end up just shutting it off when I really wish I could save and pick up where I left off later. A major oversight on a casual portable title.

I really really wish they'd do a cart of Bookworm Adventure. Its just so much better in the way Puzzle Quest is better than a regular puzzler, since its more stage and goal-oriented.

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