In many respects we shouldn't still be so enthusiastic about word games. The App Store is full of them, and sometimes when you're shuffling letters and tossing up words it's hard to remember what game you're playing.
But there's always a spark of light, something new that keeps us coming back for more. The word game genre appears to be a long way from exhausting itself if LetterHero is any indication.Speed spelling
Like so many of the best puzzle games, this one is so simple it probably shouldn't be any fun at all.
It is, inexplicably, but quite why it's hard to say. It almost reminds us of the basic coin pushing games you get at the seaside.
All you're really doing is dropping money in a slot and watching it fall, but for one reason or another, it never fails to entertain.
In LetterHero, it's letters that you're watching fall. A steady stream of randomised alphabet coasts along the bottom of the screen, and disappears again pretty quickly off the other side.
Your job is to tap at the letters as they zoom past, building up the longest words you can muster from the jumble of passing characters.
Naturally this is set against a pretty strict time limit, so you can't take your time and put together the words you really want.
The high scores come more from speed than literary aptitude, which gives LetterHero the urgency it needs to keep the rounds exciting.
It's dictionary seems to be extensive enough that, so far, we've not found a word that LetterHero didn't already know (besides the ones we might have made up on the spot, and juvenile attempts at swearing).Words (ding-ding-ding), don't come easy... to me
Of course longer words bag you more points, but committing to forming something with half a dozen or more letters means waiting longer for specific characters to tumble down.
That's precisely the point of LetterHero's design, and it works extremely well.
The gameplay is offset by occasional power-ups. One of these speeds up the flow of letters so you've a better chance of seeing the ones you want, but you've got less time to tap them. The others are similar, in that they might hamper you just as easily as helping.
With just one game mode LetterHero isn't particularly deep. But that fast, hard-hitting spell-a-thon is aggressively addictive. It makes you feel that you score hasn't done your intellect justice, so one more go is always necessary.
And after all, isn't that what most of us want from a smartphone game? Something that plays fast, restarts instantly, and offers bragging rights when you finally nail that intelligent answer.
LetterHero is all of these, and comes bundled up in a minimalist, sleekly stylish wrapping that makes it quite impossible to resist.