Last week, PopCap launched Bookworm Heroes on iOS, bringing the franchise's classic word-building fun to a new audience and a new genre with its one-on-one battles. Bookworm Heroes isn't your typical single-player word game, and it isn't even in the standard "Scrabble" format either. Instead, each word you create instantly drain's your enemy's health until there's a winner.
In Bookworm Heroes, you can challenge both friends or strangers to turn-based battles. On each turn, you're given 16 randomly assigned letters, and can combine those letters into the best single word that you can think of, whether the letter tiles are touching or not. When you're satisfied with your word, you'll send your hero in for the attack, and will then wait your opponent to do the same.
While it's likely that some players may resort to cheating to earn the best words, there's a lot of fun to be had when the game is played fairly. Even if one player is dominating the other, power-ups are available to help balance things out a bit, and these powers can even vary depending on the hero you choose to take into battle. Some may see you simply regaining health points, while others may see you earning extra attack points on your next turn. These power-ups may be specific to your chosen hero, like the game's bookworm mascot Lex, or they can be held by letter tiles that are activated upon use in a word.
Heroes are chosen at the beginning of a game, and they cost coins to hire. Coins are earned for each individual word you make, so it's not hard to have multiple games going at once and actually continue to start new games all of the time thanks to the coins you'll earn mid-game. On top of heroes, players that have tons of coins to spare can also hire pets for their heroes. These pets come with even more bonuses still, like a pig that can change the letter on a particular tile, or a bat that can heal your hero even more.
From a technical standpoint, the game runs fine on iPhone and iPad, but it lacks true multitasking, making it hard to jump right back into a game if you happen to be using multiple apps at once. If you happen to get interrupted in the middle of a move, for instance, you'll need to watch your opponent's move animation and spell your own word all over again before the game again "saves." This isn't a deal-breaker, ultimately, but it is odd considering PopCap's typical attention to detail.
In addition, when starting a game with a random opponent, the game will sometimes launch you into a sort of "spectator" mode on a game that's already in progress, forcing you to "retire" from the match that you were never really in, in the first place.
You don't have to be a previous fan of Bookworm games to enjoy Bookworm Heroes, as the game's a true standalone experience that really challenges the vocabularies of even word game pros thanks to the ability to create words using letters that may not be touching. If you're skeptical about the game's multiplayer battles, Bookworm Heroes is free to download and try, so it's definitely worth giving it a shot.
Download Bookworm Heroes on iOS >
What do you think of Bookworm Heroes? What's the best word you've created in this word game so far? Sound off in the comments!