CoderChild's WordsUp! Academy is another in a long list of puzzle games being released for the 3DS eShop recently. The game is like an electronic version of Scrabble, and sees you pitted against an opponent to find and spell out words. It's an OK puzzle game to test your brain during downtime, but it could prove very hard and frustrating for those not used to this genre.
You can choose from six languages at the start and then pick your chosen mode. There is Story Mode, Versus Mode, Free Play Mode, Classic Mode, Blitz Mode and Relaxed Mode. That's A LOT of modes; on top of that every time you start the game it also asks you if you want to go online.
Story Mode sees you pitted against Academy students one by one; this throws you straight in, there are no training or difficulty options. The premise is rather like UK show Countdown, as you have a selection of letters and have to find words before your opponent.
Versus Mode allows you to choose a particular character to go against and record your scores on the leader board. Free Play Mode, meanwhile, allows you to customise the game to your taste, which includes the number of rounds, difficulty level and round time. You can also pick a character here to go against, and as your story mode progresses the amount of characters to choose from will increase.
Classic mode is one player only, and sees you composing a sentence out of the words you create. It is a timed experience with only one round. Blitz mode changes letters every 30 seconds, really testing your skills, while the Relaxed option is the complete opposite in just taking your time and forming letters as normal with no time limit.
WordsUp! Academy seems intended to be an educational game, but the puzzles are more difficult than what you would expect considering that intention. Some words that the opponents form are rather obscure, and we suspect younger players could become discouraged. When you are online you can only share your score, meanwhile, as there is no opponent online mode.
The stylus and bottom screen are used a lot in the game, with you forming your words with the stylus and using the top screen to see the opposing character and words remaining. The characters have anime-style designs, with their facial expressions changing every so often as the game progresses. The backgrounds change depending on what mode you are in; they are pretty basic but it's not an important area in this case. The graphics are good considering the style of game, though it would have been easy to just have letters and words the addition of the characters and background makes it slightly more interesting.
The music, however, is rather average, and the voices of the characters are simply a clicking sound which can get incredibly grating.
WordsUp! Academy will please those who are savvy and quick with words; for others, however, it can be frustrating. It's recommended for those who want to build up their skills in this area, though a few glances at a dictionary will certainly be needed when this one shows off its vocabulary.