When I was preparing this review for Word Chums, it hit me. Word Chums is like one of the following analogies, so pick the one that applies to you depending upon your age. It’s like you went from cassettes to CD’s or home phone landlines to a cell phone or dial-up internet to broadband. When I went from Words With Friends and other word games to Word Chums there was no going back. When I first installed Word Chums I immediately noticed some things that may seem trivial when you see them on a press release or someone tells you about them. But upon further inspection there are major changes to the genre of the game. And by major I mean they improve the experience by one hundred percent. The guys over at PeopleFun took what annoyed me about other word games and they fixed them. And some of them I didn’t even know that I disliked until I played Word Chums.
First of all I can verify if a word is real before I submit it. And I was really growing tired of being rejected over and over when trying to submit a word for verification. Word Chums automatically turns the word green and gives you a point value called a scoring badge and you can see how much it’s worth. Now I can spend my time finding the best word instead of being rejected all day… I don’t do well with rejection. They also made games for 2-4 players, head to head, 2v2 teams. You and your friends battling it out and pairing up with each other is a big improvement.
Part of it is also streamlined game play. And what I mean is I don’t have to go back to a menu and select a game and go to another menu and hit a button. There are fewer steps in getting to other games. I can simply take my thumb, swipe and go to the next game. This is a very streamlined interface. I didn’t realize how much it annoyed me for me to go back and pick and hit another menu and go pick another game. So adding streamlined game play and streamlined interface into the game makes it a hundred percent better for me.
There is a core gaming experience that revolves around some characters called the Chums and I really like them. They have fun gear that you can buy as you win games. You can get coins and use those coins and buy hats and canes and hairdos and all types of stuff. I didn’t know if I’d be into it but I like it actually. You see your friend's characters change things and add glasses, add coats, all types of things inside the game to make it a more enjoyable experience. They have taken a fun feel that many other games have and they put it into a game that usually looks academic. Most word games have a tile placing academic look and academic feel to them. The people at PeopleFun have overcome this obstacle and actually took these two and merged them. They have merged the academic fun with the personalities of these Chums. Word Chums has also been a wonderful success at expanding my vocabulary. Now I can actually touch a word and it will tell me the definition of it. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it really annoyed me when people played words that I didn’t think were actually words that are in the dictionary and I wanted to know what they meant. I would actually take my phone and Google it and look it up and try to figure out what the word meant. It was just annoying to me. Now with a single touch – Boom! I can touch the word and I know what it is because the built in dictionary shows what the words mean. Perfect.
They’ve also added hints so if you run into a problem you can use your hints to point you to a location of a higher point word. The good thing is that it doesn’t give you the highest word, it gives you a high point word and you can actually beat the hint word, which I think adds a great balance to the game because you don’t actually pay to win.
Word Chums has leader boards and you get experience points with each game played and you level up. They also have a ribbon system for the best word and best game of the week. That doesn’t seem like a big deal but I like that the leader board changes each week because I feel like I have a shot at redeeming myself when playing bad.
I didn’t like when games kept a continuous record of lifetime losses only. If I was losing to a friend and they were 74 wins to my 10, I didn’t think I was ever going to catch them. And so the new leader board gives me new challenges and another chance to beat them. So in short, there are weekly refreshing leader boards and ribbons making me go back in there to get revenge and beat my friends. So it has kind of a competitive game experience to it also.
In closing, Word Chums has taken all of the things I have disliked about different word games and they fixed them. And another thing, PeopleFun kept all the things that were great. I think they looked at these other games, they looked at the word games that people play and they said- These things don’t need to change, there are great mechanics, there are great things in the games that people love. Leave them alone. Now what do people dislike? And they fixed all the things I disliked.
So remember I warned you – Once you buy Word Chums there’s no going back.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!