Bookworm Adventures is brilliant! It’s a casual downloadable word-game for PCs and is made by Pop Cap Games, the creators of Bejeweled 2, Chuzzle Deluxe, Zuma and plenty of other famous games.

The game is a weird combo of word game and turn-based RPG (Final Fantasy style)! The plot is that you are a bookworm that gets sent into a book about the past to rescue someone called Cassandra; the first book is set in ancient Greece, and there are 3 books in total. Each book has around 10 levels and each level has a number of stages (enemies). You start on the left-hand side of a long horizontal level and you have to make your way to the right of the level by fighting various opponents with words. When you reach the end of the level you fight a boss and then it’s onto the next level. Simple, unless, uh, you can’t spell for excrement…

bookworm1The top half of the screen shows your character (the green bookworm) on the left and your opponent (could be a wolf, lion, warrior, thief, mythical beast etc.) on the right. You start with three hearts of health (more can be gained later), and your opponent has a similar amount on the early levels, but later on they have *lots* more health. Underneath that is a 4×4 grid of letters (16 in total for the Windows Calc impaired). All you have to do is click on the letters to spell out a word of three letters of more and you will perform an attack on the enemy. Naturally the longer the word, and the more obscure the letters you use – like x,y,z – the more damage you will do to the enemy (a bit like Scrabble). Then the enemy attacks you, and you take it in turns like that. Simple as this may sound, it’s very addictive, plus the graphics and sounds are brilliant and funny.

bookworm4Of course there are extra game elements that make it more interesting such as health and power up potions plus special gem-like letters that boost your word power and have an effect on the enemy (like power down, poison or freeze) or that heal you. Also, as you progress your health, defence and attack capabilities get upgraded; but unlike most RPGs you can’t choose what you assign your “level-up” points to. Some enemies have various nasty attacks like poison, burning, bleeding, stun, petrify etc. Other enemies even crack or “infect” the letter tiles so that they don’t add to your word power when you use them. Oh and there are even locked tiles (match-3 style). Finally, at the end of each level you obtain a special item like the golden fleece (adds an extra heart) or Poseidon’s shield (reduces damage), and you can choose three of these special items to take into each level. All of this extra stuff makes the game quite tactical as well, it’s not just about spelling words. For example, there is no point using up a special poisoned gem letter on an enemy that you are about to kill, and there also is no point using up a health gem letter if you have full health.

bookworm3The game is extremely polished throughout; it even has animated credits like a mini cartoon! There are animated comic strips, funny dialog between the characters, 150 uniquely animated enemies, three cool mini-games, and various other unlockable extras. A couple of cool things that I liked were the funny loading text that says stuff like “pretending to work” and “dividing by zero” etc. Also if you defeat an enemy who has low health with a massive word, the view zooms in and it says “Crushed” or “Whomped” in slow motion and you get a bonus item – this is cool. Other pure polish items include a sliding map progress indicator, an enemy skills/weaknesses panel (e.g. colour or metal words cause more damage), and a panel that shows the best words you’ve come up with 🙂 I’m particularly proud of some weird words like Doggish and Burgeoned, oh and also Orgasm. It won’t accept swearwords though, not even British ones like @!*. Also it doesn’t seem to accept a few valid but obscure ones e.g. Amish, Romany, which is a bit disappointing, especially as my partner is a science writer and is full of weird words.

bookworm2I played this game with my whole family and we really enjoyed it but it is quite hard – you’ve got to get some longer words to beat the harder enemies instead of lots of four and five letter ones. Apparently the game’s budget was $700,000 (seems a bit much, good as it is) and it took over 2 years to develop. It sells for $29.95, which is a higher price than most other casual games, which are $19.95. However, if you like the game, it’s definitely worth it, in my opinion. Perhaps we will be seeing more big-budget downloadable games with higher prices in the near future – this one is kind of paving the way…

Jake

I'm an Indie game developer with a couple of titles under my belt. I've been programming for 23 years on a variety of platforms. Currently I'm using BlitzMax, which is great.

10 Comments »

  1. I bought Bookworm and have used it on my computer, but one of my children deleted it by mistake. How can I get it back without having to pay for it again?

  2. Katie – I’m sorry to say we can’t help. We reviewed the game but we do not sell it or do support for it. You should contact the people you purchased the game from in order to get a new copy.

  3. Any of you able to provide tips on how to pass the 2nd book ?? I’m stuck on this one level where I just can’t seem to pass it. I don’t have the proper tools to diminish the monsters who are immune to poison, fire, or anything else I can throw at them. But sadly I’m not immune to them so I always die. How do I pass these levels where they’re immune to all powers I can throw at them ??

  4. hmm, for a word game Bookworm Adventures is surprisingly tactical. But I’m not sure I can offer you any specific advice. Certainly make sure that you start the level with lots of potions by winning them on the mini games. Also try to pick the best items for the level – if nothing seems suitable then pick the generic more damage dealt and less damage received ones and maybe the one which makes more gems. On the level, take you time and make big words. Don’t use the green gems unless you have lost some health i.e. save them. Also when a monster is nearly dead, try to make a big word to kill it so it says “Whomped” and zooms in because you’ll be awarded a bonus item. Good luck!

  5. Hi Jackie, it’s not that easy to give specific tips. See my general tips in the post above yours. Make sure you pick some treasures that help you to defend against the mummy’s attacks also stack up with postions (via the minigames) and save them all for the end boss

  6. I love the game and am on my third time through. I had to reload it because of getting a new computer: luckily I had saved the registration info. They let me reload it, and it looked as though I could do that five more times if necessary. I alos, by googling, found a homeschool site (I THINK it was called familylearning.org) that gave me a guide as to which treausre were the best. I write them down and use that as my cheat sheet. I was interested to see that my instincts were correct: avoid the miscellaneous treasures and stick to the basics — the Aegis of Athena, Medusa’s Bust, Boots of Theseus, anfd occasionally the Endless Gem Pouch.

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