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Publisher: PopCap Games    Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G3    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 10 MB    Graphics: 16 MB VRAM

Bookworm Deluxe
November 18, 2005 | Marcus Albers

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I am a huge lover of board games. Monopoly, Life, Chutes and Ladders, Clue, I loved playing them all growing up, and even now. One of my all-time favorites has to be the classic tile game Scrabble, though. It is a truly intellectual game, not depending on the random roll of the dice or spin of the spinner to proceed and take the lead. Take those seven tiles in front of you, and try and make a word out of them. What better challenge could there be? What more frustrating challenge could there be? Especially when you are left with a tray that looks like Old MacDonald's chorus. What word do you expect me to spell with six vowels and a "Y"?

It is with much the same mix of joy and frustration that I come to you with MacPlay's latest offering from the puzzling minds at PopCap Games, Bookworm Deluxe. For the uninitiated, Bookworm is not your usual puzzle fare of matching colors, picking shapes, or swapping gems. The object of the game is to take the ultimate Scrabble tray and make as many words as you can. Sounds pretty daunting, doesn't it?

The playing board consists of lettered tiles laid in seven columns of tiles alternating between seven and eight tiles, so that a single tile in one column actually touches two different tiles on each side, giving a total of 6 different directions that you can go when making words. Start with a given letter, and try to make your word by clicking on adjacent tiles. If you make a word that the game recognizes, it will display the word and the points that the word is worth. Double-clicking on the last letter tile of the word will accept the word and send the tiles flying off the board, into the mouth of the bookworm watching your every move from the sidebar. Just like its puzzler brother Bejeweled, the tiles above will drop into place, and new letters will take their place at the top of the board. Your completion meter will also fill a certain amount according to the complexity of the word you created. The idea, of course, is to fill the bar and head to the next level.

As in Scrabble, each of the tiles has a different value when used in a word, based on the number of pips displayed in the lower left-hand corner of the tile. Tiles with no pips are worth fewer points than those with one, two, or three pips. Therefore, finding words to use those "x", "v", and "Qu" tiles is in your best interest. Creating some of the more obscure words in the English language can elicit a definition of the word from the bookworm. Unfortunately, it doesn't do it with all words I would consider obscure. I wish it was an always or nothing option that you could turn on and off, but I guess this is better than nothing. Some of the obscure words that I have seen definitions for have been very interesting.

In addition to combining high-scoring tiles, bonus tiles can also help you with your scoring endeavors. At times during the game, especially after making larger words, colored tiles will appear on the board. Making words using these tiles will make for larger scores. The green and yellow tiles from the web version are here, as well as other colors, such as blue, which are much rarer, but really rack up the points if you can use them. Another way of gaining points is to find the bonus word. Not long after you progress to the second level, our friendly neighborhood bookworm will announce the bonus word, a small word that, if found, will lead to many points and the adoration of millions. Okay, maybe just the points. It may take a while to jockey the tiles into position to make one of the bonus words, but when you finally do, it's worth it. Clever usage of all of these scoring options will allow you to rack up the high scores to compete with the best of them.


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