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Jeremy Jastrzab
27 May, 2007

My Word Coach Preview

Wii Preview | We go back to English class.
Most of the people who regularly browse Internet gaming websites would consider themselves to be more than just casual gamers. However, it seems that casual gaming is on a rapid rise and the big gaming publishers are looking to jump on the bandwagon. As such, Ubisoft have commissioned its biggest studio, Ubisoft Montreal, to get some teams to start working on some casual games for the audience on the Wii and DS. One of these games is My Word Coach for the Nintendo Wii and DS.

The essence behind My Word Coach is that it it’s a casual title that tries to help people spell and use words better. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that once a person has left a formal learning environment, that aspects such as their vocabulary can deteriorate over time. My Word Coach tries to put together a series of mini-games that can be played solo and through competitive multiplayer in order to help people learn more words.

51% is just a pass.

51% is just a pass.
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However, the game is not just about learning how to spell more words or to beat the opponent at a multiplayer mini-game. By putting together aspects such as spelling, definitions and comprehension, it is hoped that the player’s vocabulary will be improved. That is, you will not only look to learn how to spell the word, but also the definition of the word and how to apply it properly. The mini-games look to be adaptive to the player’s ability and progress. The game will try to gauge the players original ability in so reacting and providing accordingly.

One of the games that we had a chance to play was one where we were presented with a word and we had to fill in the letter that was missing. On the Wii, you held down the B button on the Wii Remote, and used the pointer to “spraypaint” the letter. If you didn’t like your pattern, a shake of the Wii Remote would clear it. On the DS, you simply had to draw the letter. This was all good and well but letter recognition showed a serious need for refinement as most of the words that we got wrong, were because the letter was incorrectly recognized.

Another mini-game had a definition at the top and four words. It was a multiplayer game that required you to pick the right word before the clock ran out. This one was not subject the issues of the above mini game. Overall, there will be many mini-games, both solo and competitive. The game can be played for 20-30 minutes per day and will contain around 16000 words in total. To help with the game, developers employed a series of linguistic, educational and word experts to help make the game as beneficial as possible to the respective players.

Casual gamers will lap this one up.

Casual gamers will lap this one up.
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This helps with respect to the fact that a lot of casual games feel like they have been designed to with “casual” first in mind and “game” second. The game is obviously benefiting from being designed by a group that has had a lot of experience with games. As a result, there is a product that has in the least, looked like it has been well produced. The presentation was exceptionally clean and well put together.

While the Japanese market has taken up casual games on board very enthusiastically, it remains to be seen if the western market is just as willing. However, if such games were to take off, it would be a well produced and appropriately intended game such as My Word Coach that would have the best chance of succeeding. Before it does however, it is going to need some serious work on the letter recognition, because unless this is 100% spot on in the final release, the game will be rendered virtually useless as a learning tool. Still, under the wings of proper developers, it can be done and we’ll just have to wait and see how well it turns out.
Overall:
Letter recognition pending, My Word Coach is looking to give the casual market a serious shake-up.

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Australian Release Date:
  22/11/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $79.95 AU
Publisher:
  UBI Soft
Genre:
  Puzzle
Year Made:
  2007

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