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Bookworm (or Bespelled) is a word-forming computer puzzle game by PopCap Games. From a grid of available letters, players connect letters to form words. As words are formed, they are removed from the grid and the remaining letters collapse to fill the available space. As in Scrabble, players earn more points by creating longer words or words which use less common letters. In November 2006, PopCap Games released a spiritual successor, Bookworm Adventures. Bookworm was released for the Nintendo DS digital download service DSiWare on November 30, 2009. It has also been released on the regular Nintendo DS cartridge. Though this is not the first time it has been released to a Nintendo handheld, as it has been on Game Boy Advance.
In addition to standard letters, tiles of various colors can appear depending both on the current level within the game and on the length of words being formed. Short words tend to increase the appearance of negative tiles, while longer words increase the appearance of positive tiles. The tile colors are as follows:
- Bonus Tiles, Gold Tiles, Diamond Tiles, and Sapphire Tiles - These tiles are awarded to indicate skill in forming longer words. Using these tiles in subsequent words increase the number of points earned by the word. It takes progressively longer for burning tiles to burn through the higher value tiles. These are bonus tiles which everyone wants.
- Burning Tiles - Throughout the game, burning red letters appear, increasing in frequency at higher difficulty levels. These letters automatically move downwards, and if they reach the bottom of the grid, the entire library is burned, ending the game. Hence, players must take care to remove these letters (by using them to form a word) as quickly as possible.
If the player clicks on Lex (off to the side of the play area), all of the tiles will be scrambled; however, this will produce a light to medium onrush of red tiles. If players scramble two or more times in a row, a large number of fire tiles will begin to appear on the board. Nonetheless, this provides a way to create more word combinations, as over time, less frequently used letters will otherwise gather in certain areas.
If desired, the game can be played in "Action" mode (as opposed to the "Classic" mode discussed above). In this mode, the game runs in real-time, periodically adding a new red tile every few seconds. These tiles must be dealt with quickly, leaving little time to plan longer words before having to turn one’s attention to another red tile. It may also destroy the tile underneath it.
As the player advances to each succeeding level, red tiles appear more frequently and offer more letter combinations designed to present multiple word options to the player; for example, "cow", "scow", "scowl", or "scowled". In many cases, the player must overcome the urge to immediately get rid of the tile. Instead, he or she must scan the board and look for opportunities to make the best possible word. When two or more red tiles appear, the player must judge which tile(s) should be attended to first, so as to minimize the chance of a red tile being a letter that cannot be used later. If the player can't use a red tile immediately, he or she should at least try to use the tile it touches below as this will automatically be burned through. The exception to this is when a red tile appears on top of a green, gold, sapphire or diamond tile. If this occurs, the colored tile will "hold" the red tile a little longer, allowing the player to have a better chance of creating more favorable letter combinations if the red tile is surrounded by letters that can't be used to form a word. As one becomes more experienced at word making, it will become easier to make more and varied words. If the player settles for succeeding instances of shorter, simpler words, the spate of new red tiles will become overwhelming and the game will quickly end. By maneuvering sapphire and diamond tiles to the base of the board a buffer is created giving more time to deal with burning tiles. At times one needs to "risk" letting red tiles fall to clear out clumps of unwanted letters. In this case, one needs to plan ahead for words that will use the red toward the bottom of a column.
The modes of the game include "Classic" and "Action". Classic mode is generally easier, because the player has an unlimited amount of time to form words. In contrast but if the burning tile are Bottom of the screen you can't scramble, in action mode, tiles move on their own, and a larger number of red (burning) tiles spontaneously appear. As a result, it is generally easier to create longer words in classic mode, whereas in action mode, the primary goal is often to simply remove red tiles before they cause the game to end. In action mode, one can scramble the tiles even when red tiles appear at the bottom of the game board (unlike in classic mode), but one loses the ability to do so if there are too many red tiles on the board.
The title features a separate high score "Hall of Fame" for each of the two modes.
Games similar to Bookworm
A number of word games have cropped up that has similar mechanics to this game. One of them is Word Web Deluxe by Big Fish Games. In Word Web you link letters in a hexagonal grid to form words in order to clean the house of spiders that have taken over the house due to an experiment by teenagers gone awry. Other examples include Magic Words Arcanum, WordsWorth, and Fire Words for the iPhone platform.