Added 1975-09-25 09:42:45
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iPhone App Review: Word Crunch

iPhone App Review: Word Crunch

January 26th, 2011 by

Word games in the iTunes App Store are everywhere, and with good reason: they’re a natural fit for the platform. Being able to quickly and intuitively tap or drag out a word on the screen makes iOS almost the perfect outlet for word game junkies everywhere. The bad news of there being so many word games available is that there is very little innovation in the genre. Word Crunch is probably the first word game to come along that represents a truly different word-game experience.

How It Works

Word Crunch has three different modes of play, but they all boil down a variation on the same mechanic: using the device’s accelerometer you twist and turn and spin a basket around to try and catch letters that are drifting across the screen. You catch letters, you form words, you score points. At it’s core it’s a very simple and intuitive mechanic.

The three gameplay modes are:

  • Word Hunt – Catch letters that are a part of the random words appearing at the bottom of the screen. This is a timed game in which catching or rejecting letters can add to or subtract from your time.
  • Spell & Score – With just three minutes, catch letters and arrange them yourself to form words of your choosing.
  • Survival Mode – Create your own words as in Spell & Score, but instead of earning points for words you add time to the clock. Keep going for as long as possible.

Pros And Cons

The gameplay is definitely unique, there’s no question about that. Rather than tapping out words like some of the heavy-hitters in the word game genre, you’re physically spinning a basket around to catch letters. The benefit of this method is that it gets you more viscerally involved in creating words in a way that I wasn’t even sure was possible. It’s fun to watch needed letters get sucked into the basket and others bounce off the back and get rejected. The real drawback to this however is that not only does it take some getting used to (which is really not such a big deal), but that it has the effect of making the words you’re forming meaningless.

Half of the fun in a word game is in creating the words themselves from the letters presented to you. The gameplay in Word Hunt is so frantic and free-wheeling that you feel you have almost no control over the words you create. In one gameplay mode that is literally true, where the words are given to you that you have to try and find letters for. But in the other two modes you still feel as if you’re just collecting random letters and trying to shoehorn them into words in any way possible.

There’s a feeling of being totally out of control as you try to drag letters around in the letter bar while other letters are still falling into the basket, screwing up your plans. It’s almost impossible to re-arrange letters and keep an eye on the basket and manipulate the accelerometer at the same time. It’s frustrating but exciting too, so whether or not you find it “fun” may depend on your temperament with this type of gameplay.

There was also one minor graphical bug I found on my iPhone 4: whenever I hit the “home” icon at the end of a game, the main menu is jumbled and totally unusable. Only a force quit and restart makes the game playable at that point. This doesn’t stop me from enjoying the game, and may be unique to the retina display, I’m not sure.


The bottom line on this game is that it is fun, unique, and frustrating all at the same time. The gameplay method has its drawbacks, but it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind word game experience in the app store. It needs a new category, the “Action Word Game”, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the genre.

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