Twisty Text iPhone, iPod Touch Review

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A few weeks ago I reviewed Text Twist Turbo and wasn’t impressed with the game’s unimaginative approach to the word scramble genre. The guys at Brainium Studios also thought that RealArcade’s game was a half-hearted and lacklustre attempt, but instead of moaning about it in a review, they decided to use their coding skills to create something better.

Twisty Text has the same basic gameplay as Text Twist Turbo, you’re given a selection of five to seven random letters with which to create as many words as possible. But you must find at least one word that uses all of the available letters in order to progress to the next level.

So far, so standard. But Twisty Text has the huge plus point of customisability, allowing players to select a time limit anywhere between one to five minutes in thirty-second increments. If you do prefer a more sedentary style of gameplay, however then there is the ability to turn the time limit off altogether. (Twisty Text 1 – Text Twist 0)

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The shorter the time limit chosen, the higher bonus is given for finding each word, and no time limit gives no bonus at all. You can also chose whether the biggest word will be five, six, or seven letters long. (Twisty Text 2 – Text Twist 0)

As well as allowing you to tailor-make the difficulty, this also provides the option for some great risk-reward scenarios. Do you go for a short time limit and a seven letter big word in the hope that you can find the longest word and get a high bonus? Or do you go for a longer time, a smaller bonus, and a five letter big word and have a better chance of getting to the next level and gradually building up a high score?

It’s enjoyable to play around with the variable options, and this is improved by the accessible interface. Rather than tapping each letter in turn to spell out your chosen word, you can simply drag each letter to its desired location. Then, to submit the word you can just underline it with your finger. (Twisty Text 3 – Text Twist 0)

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This means that if a longer word contains multiple smaller ones then there is no need to re-select the letters, you can simply just trace your finger under each word as you identify it. It’s such a simple and effective control scheme that it’s surprising that no one has thought of it before. The game also displays all previously solved words on the screen without the tedious need to pause and select a different menu. (Twisty Text 4 – Text Twist 0)

Of course Twisty Text has the all-important shuffle button, but there’s also the option to shuffle the letters by gently shaking your iPhone. Thankfully, this game also features the ability to suspend and resume play anytime, and the essential iPod support for your own custom soundtrack. These are things that should be standard features on all iPhone games by now, but so many designers just don’t seem to realise how important they can be. (Twisty Text 5 – Text Twist 0)

An in-game dictionary is also included that allows you to simply tap on a word that you haven’t heard of before, and then provides you with a handy definition. This allows Twisty Text to improve your vocabulary as well as testing it. (Twisty Text 6 – Text Twist 0)

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Of course, as with all games of this type you will always come across valid words that the game doesn’t recognise, and the game is still has only the simplistic goal of beating your own high score. A few awards or achievements are always helpful to give the player something to work towards other than a place at the top of their own personal scoreboard.

It’s somewhat inspiring that a couple of guys can create a game that improves on an established format in so many ways, and have it published on the same download service as the game that it has bettered. It’s a testament to the relative ease of game creation and distribution that downloadable games provide.

It’s double-edged sword however, as this same openness and accessibility means that Apple’s App Store is hugely over-saturated and the cream doesn’t always rise to the top. I recommend Twisty Text to any fans of simple word games. Text Twist is toppled, then Twisty Text should take its place. End result = Twisty Text 7 – Text Twist DNF

7 out of 10
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