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Joseph Rositano
17 Aug, 2008

Bookworm Adventures Review

PC Review | Mmm, literature.
Bookworm Adventures was originally released in 2006 as a free downloadable PC title. Like other PopCap games however, players had the option of paying a fee to download a deluxe edition of the game, which featured more levels and gameplay modes. Having grown a fan base since then, Bookworm Adventures has finally been released on a CD-ROM, and surprisingly it’s quite addictive.

The story begins by introducing players to a bookworm named Lex. One day, Lex is happily reading in the library when he is alerted by the cries of Professor Codex. The Professor has discovered a note from Cassandra the Oracle, which reveals she is being held prisoner in a book. Prompted to save Cassandra, Professor Codex uses his magical pen to transport Lex into the story.

Unlike previous games in the series, Bookworm Adventures combines elements from RPG and puzzle games. In order to progress, Lex must traverse through levels by defeating monsters until he reaches the boss. Players are given a 4x4 grid of letters, and their primary goal is to form words so that they can attack opponents. Similar to Scrabble, each letter is worth a different point value, so generally words made up of uncommon letters such as ‘X’, ‘Y’ or ‘Z’ will cause more damage. Additionally, once enemies are defeated Lex will gain experience, allowing him to level up his health, attack and defence attributes. The system is surprisingly engaging as it’s simple to understand, yet challenges players to dig deep into their vocabulary.

Awesome is stretching it a little.

Awesome is stretching it a little.
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Aside from these basic principles there are also a number of strategic elements to take advantage of. Firstly, at the end of each level you are rewarded with a treasure item which can be attached to Lex. These grant him special abilities such as decreasing the amount of damage he receives or increasing the attack power of certain letters. Another key component are Gem Tiles, which only appear if you create a word with a high point value. Essentially, Gem Tiles act as ordinary letters, but when they’re used in a word they’ll unleash a special effect. Depending on their colour these can range from simply healing Lex, to poisoning or burning the enemy causing extra damage over a short period. Taking this into account, it’s a good idea to plan out when to utilise each gem type. For example, if your enemy has low health then it would be wise to use the poison gem a little later.

To mix things up a little, the developers have also incorporated several mini-games that reward players with potions. Potions can be used at any time during battle to heal Lex, power-up attacks or cure status effects such as poison. The mini-games once again revolve around creating words, but each one is considerably different. One mini-game gives you a group of letters and you must create as many words as possible before time runs out. Another one sees you trying to guess what the secret word is by eliminating potential letters. There’s enough variety to keep players coming back for more, and it also offers a nice change of pace from the main game.

Visually, Bookworm Adventures is bright, colourful and neatly presented. Animations run smoothly and are appealing to watch, however, the game simply lacks extra flair to make it stand out. As for the soundtrack, each enemy has its own unique cackle or roar, which makes them feel menacing and fun to fight. There are only a handful of music tracks playing in the background and while they are suited to the style of the game, at the same time they’re completely unmemorable.

If a zoo had that creature we'd report them for animal cruelty.

If a zoo had that creature we'd report them for animal cruelty.
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If you enjoy casual gaming then it’s recommended you check out Bookworm Adventures. The gameplay mechanics are simple, but at the same time offer considerable depth and challenge to the experience. If you’re not into the genre however, then you need not apply.
The Score
The game encourages you to dig deep into your vocabulary and create powerful attacks. It’s surprisingly engaging and when coupled with strategic elements such as Gem Tiles, and can also be quite challenging. To keep things fresh there are also a variety of mini-games on offer. A must for casual gamers. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 Comments
5 years ago
Bookworm Deluxe was certainly great fun. Ill definately give this one a go. Thanks for shedding light on it icon_wink.gif
5 years ago
Any chance of this coming to DS/PSP? Would be the answer to Puzzle Quest!
5 years ago
There is currently no word of Bookworm Adventures coming to the PSP or DS. It would certainly be great on those systems though, the machanics are similar to other games I've played and wouldn't be too difficult to implement.

I guess it depends on how well the PC game sells. Diner Dash sold well, and then the series got adapted to mobile phones and eventually gaming consoles. Hell, I think Bookworm Adventures would even be suited as a downloadable WiiWare title!
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Publisher:
  Pop Cap

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