WordPop! for Palm OS

Reviewed by: Lianne Reitter, February 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Smart Box Design LLC, go to the web site
Requires: Palm OS 3.5 or higher
MSRP: $14.95

WordPop! is the latest word game for the PDA. Created by Smart Box Design just this year, WordPop! is a perfect little game for word lovers who enjoy testing their vocabulary. WordPop! offers you a board of 36 letter tiles (6 x 6) and your task is to clear the board by finding words, much like the pen & paper word search puzzles in the weekend newspapers. You find words by selecting each letter tile and spelling the word in any direction. So long as tiles are touching, you can link them up, down, diagonally or in combinations that will have you snaking all around the board, even looping around in circles spelling out words of any number of letters.

Scoring is pretty simple. Each letter has a corresponding numerical score – not unlike a scrabble tile – but your total word score is not simply a total of the chosen tiles, but also of those tiles times the number of letters in the word. So a simple three letter word such as JET can total 30 points even though two of the letters only have a value of one. It’s a bit like a Scrabble game in which every word earns a triple word score space. Once you have spelled out a word, a click of a button explodes the tiles, and any tiles remaining above fall down to take their place. Really now, what’s a good word search game without a few exploding tiles?

Clearing an entire board might seem near impossible especially if the tiles are chosen by the software in any kind of a random order. To help with this problem is a button to turn the board on its side. Once rotated, the tiles fall into new positions, filling in what were empty spaces and opening up a whole host of new letter combination possibilities. If that weren't enough help, you get blank tiles that you can place on empty spaces in order to complete your word. The higher the difficulty level of game play you choose, the fewer free tiles you have available to use. It's no secret that I play this game in Easy mode.

The game isn't timed so you can stare at the board looking for that elusive seven letter word for as long as you like, which is nice as I find it stressful enough to spell without the added pressure of running out of time or having tiles disappear on me as with other similar games. I find I can relax a little with the pressure off and I actually do find words that I otherwise might not have without the extra time. WordPop! won't tell you that you have no further combinations left though, so be careful, ending a game prematurely is definitely a possibility.

I installed WordPop! on two different PDA’s one running Palm OS 4.1 and one running Palm OS 5. While the game is available in a Palm OS 4.1 version, the software is obviously happier when running on faster processors. The Palm OS 4.1 Sony Cliè PEG-N760C with its Dragnoball VZ processor was positively pokey compared to the absolutely zippy Palm Zire 71 with its Texas Instruments OMAP310 144MHz processor. Mind you, WordPop! is still enjoyable on slower PDAs. A feature to turn off non-essential graphics, animations, etc., when running WordPop! on older PDAs would be nice. In an case, WordPop! is a terrific time waster that you can use for hours on end, with added benefit of improving your spelling and challenging your vocabulary along the way. It's a lot of fun all around if spelling is your thing. Recommended.

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