Boggle has made a huge comeback thanks to iOS games. Boggle was the classic board game where you shake up a bunch of dice with letters on them, and form as many words as you can by connecting them horizontally, vertically and diagonally. What else could you add to the Boggle formula? How about fighting?
Writer Rumble is a Boggle battle game. You’re still forming words from the scrambled letters, but now your word score inflicts damage on your enemy. The bigger your word, the more damage you do. Let me tell you, it’s way harder to think of words when you’re taking hits from the other player. You also have three powers for attack or defense. These include flipping your opponent’s board upside down, scrambling their letters, restoring your health, rearranging your own board to your own advantage, or doubling your attack power. The intensity is incredibly stressful. I’m trying to think of words here and suddenly I have to spell them upside down!
You can choose from six fighters based on the literary greats. Edgar (Allen Poe), Agatha (Christie), The Brothers (Grimm), Jane (Austen) Homer (the Greek poet) and Howard (Robert E.). These are cool figures from the world of literature, but their powers don’t really have anything to do with who they were or what they wrote. They could just be six generic characters with different powers. I guess it’s cool that they’re paying homage to the literary greats but why would Robert E. Howard have the ability to regenerate health and Jane Austen have all the damage multipliers? That doesn’t really make sense.
Rounds are two minutes but you don’t really get two minutes because you can be destroyed in a few seconds with some big words and a damage multiplier. It might have been nice if the health bars lasted a little longer, so you could actually get a good game going. It’s not that fun if you just lose quickly, and frankly, it's not that fun to win so easily either. Plus, if you have the power to scramble the other player’s letters, you can confuse them every 30 seconds, and likewise if they can flip your board upside down, they can just keep hitting you. There’s got to be a better way to strategize the word weapons because it becomes more like a card game where you play your god cards than a word game where you use your brains.
It can be hard to find an opponent online, but I’ve done okay in the first few days of the game’s launch. If there’s no one online, you can always play Survival Mode, where you just fight waves and waves of monsters by spelling words. That can get really hard because you’ll run out of words after a few rounds. You can also play with two people on a single iPad with a split screen, but I wouldn’t want to try that. That does not look like fun, two people hunched over half an iPad screen. I suppose it’s out of the question for the iPhone version.
Graphics are good. The animated likenesses of the authors are great and the backgrounds are colorful. It definitely adds a spark to the basic letter grid.
I enjoy Writer Rumble. It’s Boggle with a twist and there’s some strategy you can employ with the power-ups. I’d like to see some improvements come in the future updates though. Maybe more authors, a wider variety of powers or change some of the rules so it’s more of a challenge. As the first iOS release from GameFly, I would have thought they'd consider the problems hardcore gamers and wordsmiths might have with the way the game plays. Despite the annoyances, Writer Rumble is still pretty fun.