| Bookworm

PopCap has been on a bit of a Nintendo DS bender recently, bringing a number of its classic casual titles to the dual-screen handheld.

One of them is Bookworm, a game about making words from tiles, rather than an action title revolving around gobbling your way through books. Shame.

For wordophiles, this is an enjoyable release that will help while away many a commute. Anyone else may find it difficult to justify paying full price for what amounts to a one-trick pony.

It's only words

Presented with a grid of letters, you must link adjacent tiles together to form words. The longer the word and the more interesting the letters, the higher your score will climb.

As you continue to pull words from the grid, you'll receive experience points allowing you to level up and take on grids full of dangers and bonuses.

You can match glowing tiles for extra points, while fire tiles will gradually burn through letters below each turn. Allow a fire tile to burn through to the bottom of the grid without matching it, and it's all over.

Bookworm provides a sense of progression through various unlockables and side missions. As you bag points, you'll unearth extra furniture for your library, and the scenes on the left-hand screen will show your workplace filling up nicely.

There are also bonus books to collect, simply by spelling out a special word of the day each time you play. It will take tens of hours to complete everything Bookworm has to offer.

Do the worm

Word puzzle lovers will have a blast with Bookworm's simple yet challenging premise, as the fire tiles build up and your score skyrockets.

The game lets you take your time and consider all the possibilities, so it's great for sitting back and relaxing, while also testing your noggin.

Yet there aren't very many game modes to be getting on with, and rather quickly the whole thing becomes quite repetitive.

The multiplayer mode somewhat saves the game from disaster. Playable either via cart link-up or download play, Bookworm lets two players take it in turns to make words on a grid, going head-to-head to bag a set number of points first.

It's definitely a lot of fun to play with a friend, although the download play version is a little broken. After a game is over, the Nintendo DS which has downloaded the game will immediately shut down, with no option for a rematch.

Boring through books

PopCap has also made a horrible mistake that only one in ten people will notice - me included. There is no support for left-handed players.

Whereas most DS games that require you to hold the handheld like a book offer a way to flip the action, Bookworm has no such option, meaning play was very uncomfortable for me.

The final nail in the coffin is that there's a much cheaper version available for DSi, although a number of features are missing.

If you're more of a casual player, it would be best to simply download that version, as you may find it difficult to justify paying the retail price.

Bookworm provides enjoyable wordplay antics, but doesn't offer enough content to keep us playing for very long.


Bookworm is great for killing an hour or two, but only serious wordsmiths will play for longer
Mike Rose
Mike Rose
An expert in the indie games scene, Mike comes to Pocket Gamer as our handheld gaming correspondent. He is the author of 250 Indie Games You Must Play.