Game Review - by James Allen
It is said that there are two kinds of people in the world: left-brained and right-brained. Now, I can never get the two straight, but one is logic heavy and the other is artsy heavy or something like that. Anyways, this is eventually going to lead to the fact that I'm not that good at Word Games, and, subsequently, Hoyle Word Games. And since we are at the goal already, the let's just proceed onward, eh? Hoyle Word Games comes with nine different games that attempt to make you use your brain outside of a school environment. So, will Hoyle Word Games increase your vocabulary, or be..uhm..uh…bad?
In Hoyle Word Games, we are presented with nine different games of word. You can play the games by yourself, over the Internet, or even with an opponent on the same computer in some of the game modes. You can also add Word Searches onto your Palm OS handheld. Since there are some slightly strange (some would say original) game modes, I'm going to reserve the brunt of the review to reside in the Gameplay section: this decision took three, maybe four minutes of deep thought. So, just scroll on down to see the goods!
Most of the sound that you will find in Hoyle Word Games is present in the Anagrams game, and other than the off-the-wall comments present there, you'll find the rest of the game pretty much devoid of sound other than the rambling background music. Now, I can certainly understand this, mainly because word games are historically quiet affairs, in which conversation and other auxiliary sound is kept to a minimum. There are effects in the game show like Double Cross, and the opposition does occasionally spout some words or phrases. It is true that to do well at these games, concentration is needed and any abrupt sound will disturb this process. All right then.
This is the main draw of Hoyle Word Games, and a fair amount of different games with the central theme of words and phrases are found. First off, in the game of Anagrams, you are given a series of six letters, and you are to make as many words as possible out of them before the time runs out. You can choose to have obscure words or the talking skulls (you'll see what I mean; they are funny the first time you play, but beer nuts are only so funny). The classic mysticism of Crosswords challenge the player to fill in those blanks with linked words: you can have one or two players, and the ability to show correct letters as you place them. DoubleCross is a variation on Scrabble in a game show format. You can place letters to form words or partial words, collecting points for completed words and using squares with point values. It's an interesting game which I am very bad at. The Enigma machine is also present: a famous quote or proverb is given, except that all of the letters are exchanged for other random letters, and it's up to you to figure out the original phrase. You can option to show correct letters and have the vowels stay scrambled as vowels.
Everybody's violent favorite Hangman is given in four different flavors. We have classic hangman, allowing six or eleven misses before the end of the game. The Hangman Challenge features a group of related words, and you only have a finite number of misses. Head to Head Hangman is the two player version, and Hangman Showdown is between three players, which is basically Wheel of Fortune without all of the copyright violations. Speedy Racer tests your ability to type in letters and words in quickly (without all of the evil of The Typing of the Dead). Wordox is Scrabble, Word Yacht is Boggle, and Word Searches are Word Searches. There are enough word games here, and most have a large dictionary to choose from (I have yet to see a repeat), so Hoyle Word Games ends up being a fine collection of vocabulary testing software. The computer players (who could cheat very rampantly is they wanted to) are usually very fair. So, there is enough wordy goodness here to satisfy most lovers of this stuff.
There are barely any extras in the graphics department here. Sure, they are just word games, but more animations or any other effects would be welcome. It appears that most of the games have been devoid of anything outside of the a basic graphical representation, just enough to make the game playable. I surmise that most of the attention was paid to the games themselves, rather than sprucing up the colors. That's fine, I guess, but you will be very unimpressed with the pictures in Hoyle Word Games.
Hoyle Word Games sums up to being a good collection of different word games for the whole family to fail miserably at. It would have been nice to see a couple of more games included, and the graphics have something more to be desired. But, it's still a nice collection of games that will probably satisfy most proponents of the English language out there (you know who you are). Now if you will excuse me, I must improve my…word…know…thing.