10 Popular Word Games on iPhone
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1. 7 Little Words
7 Little Words is a neat little mix of multiple word game flavors. The back of the box summary is as follows: You have 7 clues, 7 mystery words and 20 tiles representing groups of letters. Combine the latter to work out the former.
The genius of 7 Little Words is the tiles. By making them letter groups rather than individual letters, it creates a puzzle of many colors: a little bit crossword, a little bit anagram, and a dash of word search. It also comes with a sliding scale of difficulty based on the level of challenge you're interested in.
When it comes to word game apps, originality isn't typically a priority. Publishers get a more consistent profit off established concepts with an original gloss, and develop games accordingly.
That makes Alphabear even more impressive. For once, it's not "word search, but with X" or "Boggle, but for Y." It's an honest-to-goodness original gaming concept in convenient app form. Alphabear presents players with a grid of random letters and calls on them to swipe in words. On using adjacent letters, you generate an adorable blocky animated bear, which grows larger with higher scores and more adjacent letters. Plays also generate game elements rare in app games, such as powerups and boss battles.
It's original, it's fun and it's adorable. Its one failing is that it's very freemium. Playing Alphabear requires "honey," in-game currency that slowly rebuilds, but can be bought with actual money. That limiting mechanic prevents Alphabear from earning the classic status it otherwise deserves, but it's still an excellent game. And, the quite reasonable price of $4.99 purges the "honey" mechanic for good. Alphabear 2 is also available now, with new levels and mechanics to explore.
Blackbar is unique on this list in that it actually costs money. There are no ads or "freemium" gimmicks: just pay $2.99 and you get the whole game. To be honest, we found that rather refreshing. Eternal ads get old. We've got 3 bucks.
Appropriate to its price tag, Blackbar is a deeper, more complicated game than several of its fellows on this list. For one thing, it has a plot, a story of dystopian oppression the player slowly unlocks by deducing words that have been censored in messages from loved ones.
Blackbar isn't about earning points. It's telling a story, one that the player participates in and changes as the game progresses. It's a remarkable work, with satisfying gameplay elements and a truly compelling narrative. This isn't one to dip into for five minutes then forget about. Save it for your next long flight or bus ride. It's worth it.
Moxie is darn near a unicorn of the app gaming world: it is both original and simple. We can explain Moxie in a sentence: get a letter and add it to one of the visible words, ideally in a way such that, when you get the next letter, you can create another word, and so on. That's all there is.
Well, that's "all there is" to Moxie in the sense that knowing how the pieces move is "all there is" to chess. This game sets a compelling rhythm, moving you from word to word in a flow that makes your brain rush to keep up. There's always the challenge of keeping your streak alive, and, lurking behind, the dread "twaddle," a play that yields no words and breaks the streak.
Moxie is simple, elegant, original and free. Completely free - no in-app purchases, no ads. Seriously, a game app without ads? On iOS? That's not a unicorn. It's a unicorn that eats junk mail and excretes stock tips. Try it out.
Like Boggle? Try Ruzzle. As Words With Friends is to Scrabble, so Ruzzle is to Boggle. It delivers the same balance of quick thinking and deliberation and, like its inspiration, it can get surprisingly competitive. As you might expect, there are any number of Boggle-alikes available in the iPhone App Store, not to mention a properly licensed Boggle app. Ruzzle has the most elegant interface and a global fan base of fellow players itching for a game, so it gets our recommendation.
Spellspire is one of several games that puts an action RPG gloss over spelling challenges of increasing difficulty. The usual RPG mechanics are there: leveling up a character, acquiring shiny new gear, and so on. This paradigm has been going since Bookworm Adventures, released for PC in the grim darkness of 2006, but Spellspire is the best incarnation to date on iOS.
The app is free, the in-game purchases aren't overly intrusive, and the game as a whole has a charmingly scrappy look brought to life with excellent animation. It's one of the deeper word games available on iOS, and it rewards players willing to sink some time into it.
Usually, summing up a game in a single phrase does it a disservice. Describing Words With Friends as digital Scrabble, for instance, leaves out the Lightning Rounds, the Solo Challenges and any number of smaller tweaks they've made to the formula.
That said, Wordalot can absolutely be summed up in one sentence, and it is in no way a disservice. Wordalot is a crossword app that employs pictures instead of clues. That's it. It's also a great freaking idea. Not everybody finds joy in delving into dictionaries and tucking away bits of trivia. If you love words, but find more satisfaction in the visual and holistic than the textual and trivial, Wordalot is your word game of choice.
Wordjong delivers exactly what it says on the box: mahjong, but with words. It incorporates a light theme derived from Chinese folklore, but fundamentally it calls on the same powers of spatial reasoning as mahjong, with the set-collecting focus shifted to creating words rather than finding matches. It's a satisfying mashup of word gaming with one of the world's greatest board games.
We've written about Wordscapes before, but it's worth repeating: good grief, this game is relaxing. It is smooth jazz - good smooth jazz, "Kind of Blue" smooth jazz - for the gaming soul. Its core mechanic of swiping a disc of letters to fill an empty crossword has been iterated dozens of times with varying success, but Wordscapes just does it right.
The calming ambient music, nature themes and beautiful background photography make it the ideal escape from a long day or a long line. If Wordscapes has a drawback, it's that it hits its chill tone so perfectly that the occasional ads can seem even more jarring, but they're short and the developers seem to have chosen their sponsors with tone in mind as well as profit. Can't say fairer than that.
10. Words With Friends 2
The original copycat. Yes, we said it. At the risk of calling down the Wrath of Zynga, WWF has always been a slick interface wrapped around a bootleg version of Scrabble. Its visuals have been retooled, its board slightly altered, letter values swapped around enough to avoid actual legal trouble, but let's be real. Words With Friends is a Scrabble knockoff.
That said, the Rolling Stones were a knockoff of the Beatles. Metallica was a knockoff of Motorhead. Nowhere does it say knockoffs can't be good. Zynga has consistently innovated with their lexicographic killer app, and the latest version comes with new game modes, single player challenges, and a clean, legible interface.
Combine that with an enormous global player base and a moderate ad presence and you have a genuine phenomenon. Words With Friends 2 is, as of now, the best competitive spelling game in the mobile marketplace. Note that actual, licensed Scrabble also exists in the mobile marketplace. Right now, on iOS, WWF2 out-Scrabbles Scrabble. It's just a better game.
Games All Day
These are 10 of WordFinder's favorite word games for iPhone. They are by no means the only 10 word games for iPhone. Some of the most creative and exciting software development in the marketplace is happening in the iOS App Store. If some of these tickle your fancy but don't quite seal the deal, look them up and see what other recommendations appear. App gaming is rich in remixes, reimagination and outright copies of popular games. Take a look.
Matt Salter has been a professional writer for over 10 years. He is a gaming and technology expert, and world-class word nerd.