Oxyphenbutazone. That’s about as high as you can go in Words With Friends – a single word worth 1674 points. That’s either an awesome feat of linguistic prowess, or just plain cheating – you be the judge. The good news is that Words With Friends is not the only game in town. You could go with another Zynga game like Scramble With Friends, but today I’m here with two very different word games for Android, both from indie developer concreterose. Don’t let the lo-fi graphics fool you: Each is glorious in its own way.
If you’re into fast-paced word composition, Word Weasel is what you’re looking for:
The concept is as simple as it looks. You get a dialer-like setup of nine letters, and must compose as many words as you possibly can within 60 seconds. The music is grating and makes things even more stressful, but thankfully, you can turn it off.
What’s interesting about the mechanic is that it’s synchronous multiplayer: A new game begins every 60 seconds, and you are facing off against a bunch of other people who are all playing at the very same moment, all across the world. There’s no Facebook login or anything like that – just pick a username (or not), and have fun. There are ads, though.
While the crazy-fast gameplay may not be to everyone’s liking, the multiplayer dynamic is just excellent. This is a great example of a game that doesn’t feel like it was built to become huge — it’s like it was meant to be played with just a few other random people who all happen to be online at that very same moment. At the end of the game you see your relative ranking, as well as a list of all of the words you could have composed with the letters for that round.
There’s just a handful of settings, but they are useful:
You can toggle off the music (you’re going to want to do that, trust me), but even more important for quick gameplay, you can have the game clear out the letters automatically if you try to submit a word that doesn’t exist or a word you’ve already used this round.
Finally, the rapid pace of the games makes it difficult to cheat. Yes, you may be able to very quickly type in these nine letters into a service and get back a list of words, but you’ll have to be very fast indeed — and besides, let’s be honest, that smells of desperation.
While Word Weasel is fun, I found Wordiest downright addictive. I actually had a hard time trying to stop playing.
That’s what a game looks like: You get a bunch of letters, and you need to make up two words with them for the highest score possible. Some subtle touches make it difficult to cheat: For one thing, a given letter isn’t always worth the same amount of points. If you look closely at the screenshot above, you may be able to see that the letters A in Saltier and Wage carry a “double word” bonus – a tiny 2W mark – but the letter A that’s still in the letter bank (at the bottom of the screen) carries no such bonus. So you may be able to feed all of these letters into a Scrabble-cheating website, but the results you get won’t necessarily give you the highest score possible in Wordiest.
Another amazing feature (and that is not a word I use lightly) is the instant definition: As soon as you compose a word, its meaning pops up right under it. So if you’re just scrambling letters around trying to make random words and you happen to chance on a real word, you also get to learn what it means.
Finally, here’s the kicker: As soon as you hit Submit, you get a scatter plot of results other players obtained using those same letters.
Note the as soon bit – that’s important. Other word games sometimes have you wait hours for your turn (however long it takes for the other person to make a move). This means you need to play many games in parallel to keep playing, and from my experience, people sometimes just ditch the game midway (or cheat… did I mention cheating yet?). Here, feedback is asynchronous – it doesn’t matter if anyone else is playing at the same time – and it is absolutely instant, you don’t even have to wait for a page to load.
Another very cool feature of the scatter plot is that each data point is interactive: If you are curious to see how another player was able to get such a high score, just press and hold that data point, and the game will display the words that player composed along with their definitions. The game also saves your history so you can browse past games, and assigns you a player ranking that updates over time. You can log in with Google Play Games to sync all of this to the cloud.
Other than a single dodgy ad (shown above, and not the developer’s fault), I have nothing but high praise for Wordiest. I would go so far as to say that it is the best word game I have ever played on Android, from concept to mechanics and execution. Simply a joy to play – I only wish the in-app purchase price was a little lower (it’s currently set at around $4).
What about iOS?
If you want to play with friends who have an iOS device, you may want to check out these 3 cross-platform, free word games for Android and iOS. That post actually mentions Word Weasel in passing, but unfortunately, it is not one of those games.
Did you give these a try? Are you more of a frantic Word Weasel gamer, or a calm, calculating Wordiest wizard? Let me know in the comments.