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App reviews for the WebOS

Bringing back a classic game with a totally modern twist! – Wobble Words

Posted by groovdafied on January 3, 2010

Wobble Words is the derivative of the 40 year old game Boggle, where 16 random letters is placed for you to find words within it’s chaotic pattern.

Some History


In case you’re not familiar with Boggle, the game was presumably invented in the 1970’s. The game’s contents were 16 6-sided dice with letters on each face of a die, a 16-slot tray, a large dome cover and a timer. The dice sit within the 4 by 4 tray, which you covered and shook to randomly place the dice in each slot. Once the dice have been uncovered, you had a timer count down as you quickly read out actual words from the bunch.

The word must be a minimum of 3 letters, and a letter cannot be used more than once in a word. The letter path can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal; the path can be erratic as long as the letters are adjacent to each other. An example of this is shown at the top of this post with the red line outlining the spelled words.

The players can be divided into teams, and will score points depending how long the words are.  For example, if I spelled out “now”, the players will receive 1 point for three letters. The scoring system is different for Wobble Words and will be explained further into this review.

The Game

The WebOS addition of this game is almost identical to the original, but has updated the rules for a longer gaming experience. The game costs $2.99 and is developed by Gobico. Their website takes you directly to the Wobble Words page, with some simple marketing of the in-game features, a quick YouTube demonstration and of course some customer feedback. You can also follow their Facebook and Twitter accounts for quick automatic updates about their application. You can receive support via email at , I’ve sent them an email with a few questions I had about the game and received a very quick response. It’s good to know that there are people reading and answering your emails for support questions. You can also communicate through the Gobico Games forum page at PreCentral.net (http://forums.precentral.net/gobico-games/)

Graphics/UI/Menu’s

The interface is great and many will notice the attention to detail. The developers left out the default API buttons and designed a custom UI that fits into the app nicely. The menu system gently sits at the bottom of the screen, with easy access to the following options: Game, Scores, Help and “Prefs” (preferences).

In-game screenshot. The letters missing is the result of spelling a word.

Before the game starts, you have the opportunity to set the rules of the game. Have the timer off or set it at 3minutes or 10minutes. Enable or disable the option to shake the game (will explain below), have new letters drop to fill the empty slots and have blank tablets as wild cards.

The different rules you can set for your game.

You can view the high scores played on your handset only. The scores are categorized by the different game rules that are setup by the player. According to the website, there are 24 different ways to play; therefore you can have a high score list for each rule setup. At first I thought this was a glitch, until the developer clarified with me how it worked. Hopefully in their next update, they will be able to organize these high scores for easier access. Perhaps have different tabs that will show the high scores and the settings that were used. Maybe add a “Play with these rules” button, if the player wants to challenge those high scores.

The ‘help’ menu gives you some playing instructions, quick tips & FAQ, an about page, an email link for support and direct access to their mobile website. Pretty straight forward and no digging required, simple and sweet. The ‘prefs’ page allows you to customize the look and behaviors of the game, such as; sounds, music, vibration, visible values on the letters and a toggle switch to turn the analog clock to a digital one. The theme button, located at the bottom of the page, allows you to choose 3 pre-designed themes – no pun intended. You have the choice of a Matrix black & green style theme, a classic plastic theme and a wooden theme. The themes are well done, displaying a quality and complete look. Hopefully with future updates to this app, they will add additional themes to expand the look and feel of the game. Perhaps some user made themes when the app starts to progress into higher versions.

(left)plastic theme (middle) wood theme (right) matrix theme

(left) app preferences (middle) top scores (right) help

Help options for the app

Gameplay

The words in the game are referenced by an official word list used in spelling tournaments called SOWPODS, which is commonly used in most countries except for USA, Thailand and Canada.

If you haven’t changed any of the preferences, you can start the game right away. If at anytime you have to switch to a different application or your phone somehow goes into sleep, the app will automatically pause and present a pleasant splash screen with a ‘Tap Here’ message to resume your game. Another nice feature is to tap the Game menu, while you’re playing your current game. This will allow you to buy hints for 100points. The hints will tell you to look for a particular word and it’s up to you to find it.

The app will automatically pause and immediately show this page.

You have the option to receive in-game hints, but at the cost of 100 points.

The player is accompanied by some music that sort of gives you the sense of urgency and playfulness as well. The game makes use of the vibrate motor and speaker for sound effects and notifications. As you slide your finger from the first letter to the last, you will hear some light clicking sounds to confirm that the word is selected and if the word is correct, you will hear a whoosh sound, similar to closing an app within WebOS. If the word is in-correct, you will hear a buzz sound with a notification why you haven’t scored. As you select the words, the letters will disappear and the remaining letters fall into the gaps with new random letters to follow. This feature can be turned off if you wish to hunt for words without new letters replacing the old. The game also makes use of the accelerometer and rotates the letter tiles appropriately for your viewing, which is convenient if you prefer holding your handset in landscape.  One feature I would like to see implemented in their next update is to have more realism, in regards to random placement of the letters.  In the original physical game, when you shake the box of letters, the dice are not always in sync and facing up right for easier reading. If Wobble Words had a mode where the letters were randomly rotated, I believe this would really raise the bar even higher when searching for words and increase the challenge and replay value.

Oh ya, score!

The scoring system is very tricky and dynamic, as you start to spell out longer words, your score will increase. Spelling with the minimum 3-4 letters will earn the basic values assigned to that letter. The longer the word, the larger your points will accrue. Players will receive point multipliers once you start spelling with 5 letters or more. For example, if I spell the word ‘A-R-R-O-W’, and each letter had a value of ‘1-5-5-3-2’, that’s 16 points already earned (not including the multiplier). Since I’ve spelled a 5-letter word, I get an x5 multiplier to my score; therefore 5 x 16 = 80 points! But this is just the tip of the iceberg, for your points will dramatically increase simply by adding an additional letter. If I managed to spell ‘A-R-R-O-W-S’, and each letter had the value ‘1-5-5-3-2-2’, that’s 18 points. But now I’ve spelled a 6-letter word; therefore my multiplier increased from x5 to x20. Adding up the points to 16 x 20 = 320. The blank tablets will have an added bonus if used in your word. When selected, the app will use the correct letter to formulate a proper word and rack up your points even higher.  There’s no documentation about the scoring system, but it does keep the player challenged to spell bigger and better words. I was able to form a 7-letter word with a blank tablet and scored 1,000 points, it definitely adds that “wow” factor when you first receive it. There was a small error in the score notification that the player scored “X points with 7 words”. Not a huge issue issue in my book, but I do like finding small technical Easter eggs. When using the blank tablets to form your word, the app will automatically use more than one letter to reach the maximum amount of spelled words. So for example, if I have _ – A – T, the app will fill in the blank with all known letters that will properly spell a word with the letters A and T. B-A-T, C-A-T, H-A-T and so forth. This will easily help the users score more points, for they are receiving credit for each possible word.

Yes! 255 points for 7 WORDS!

If a player is running out of letters to spell, you have one chance to shake your device at any time of the game and new letters will be generated and fall into place immediately. This cannot be undone, it will cost you 100 points and this option is represented with a Ying Yang icon at the top left of the screen, and you will earn additional shakes when you spell 5 letter words. As you continue to play in the game, you will receive various ‘trophies’, this is similar to game achievements in Xbox 360 and PS3 games. There’s no list available to read what trophies you’ve received or what you can win. Hopefully this could be implemented in a possible future update to help track a player’s progress and record it either on the handset or preferably host the player data on a server. Once the game has ended, you will be prompted to enter your name to record your high score and will be re-directed back to the main menu. As mentioned earlier, I would like to see the high scores be shared with other players, by uploading the data to a server.

The Ying & Yang icon that represents you have one full shake available, but at the cost of 100 points.

The game has a lot of replay value and can also substitute as a pass-around device when playing with other people. The graphics are well designed and definitely delivers for the price tag, which is why it deserves an 8 out of 10. After a couple of email messages, Gobico is still developing and expanding this application, and from what I can tell, there’s a lot of room for growth. Most people in the app catalog has already given this application a high rating and are claiming that this game is a lot of fun and well worth the $2.99, and I too agree with some of their comments.

Select the letters R-O-B

Selecting the letters N-_-N-E (most likely NINE or NONE)

New letters filling in after completeing the previous word.

WebOS Version: 1.3.5

Hardware: Palm Pre

Developer: Gobico www.gobico.com

Email: support@gobico.com

App version: 1.1.0

Price: $4.99 $2.99

(note: all emails listed in this article are protected via image addresses)

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One Response to “Bringing back a classic game with a totally modern twist! – Wobble Words”

  1. Hey, thanks for the review! Couple of corrections though. If you use a blank in a word, it *is* possible to get a large score for multiple words. Let me explain. If you were to use “_AT” as a word, you’d get credit for all the three letter words in the dictionary which end in “AT”, like: BAT, CAT, FAT, HAT, etc. So it’s not a bug, just maybe something that needs more introduction in the game. Second correction is that you can earn more shakes in the same game by spelling 5+ letter words. So you have multiple chances to shake things up, especially handy in marathon untimed times. 😉

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