iPhone game engages in addictive wordplay


POSTED: Monday, March 22, 2010

If you're already a fan of the Scrabble-like "Words with Friends" app but tire of waiting for your so-called friends to make their moves (while they consult their "q words without u" dictionaries), you might fill the downtime with "Shake and Spell," available in free 2-D and 3-D formats.

Warning: This Boggle-like game is addictive. For those who cannot think in 3-D, the 2-D game lays out letters in a 16-letter grid, from which you pluck out vowels and consonants to form words with three or more letters. The 3-D version is presented in a cube that shows 12 letters at a time. The difficulty in both games is that not all the letters you see may be used, though sometimes the direction you work toward will make more letters available.






        Type: Game


Cost: Free




Oh, and the game is timed, so you have only two minutes to conceive every word. It's nerve-wracking. In the beginning I was lucky to come up with nine words for nine points in the 3-D version. I could not fathom how others playing the game, connected by iPhones, could score up to 115 points. (You get more points for larger words.)

Shaking the phone sets the letters of your game, and playing repeatedly will help you improve your scores as you begin to learn the standard word combinations such as EAT, ATE, TEA, etc. And "S" will be your best friend as you turn every noun into a plural, easily doubling your score. I've worked my score up to about 50, and to 65 on the Daily Challenge, but still cannot reach 115.

That's the other thing: Although you can have hours of fun playing solo, it is presented in a social network, so others can see what you're doing and may reach out to challenge you.

I was disturbed to see unknown challengers stepping up to play me when I was scoring a mere 15 to their 28. I mean, what kind of challenge is that when they knew I had no chance of winning? It was somewhat embarrassing, and if I had known it was so public, I would have chosen a different ID. (Please don't look for me. I'm competitive with myself as it is.)

There are pay versions of the 3-D (99 cents) and pro ($1.99) apps, which I assume do away with the pesky pop-up ads between games and allow you to save your high-point words and scores for all eternity. I'm not at that point yet.

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