"Reading, Writing, and Swiping"
Usually, education and games are treated as opposites. This problem isn't helped by the fact that most intentionally educational games (or "edutainment", as their publishers label them so pathetically) are crap. If it were branded differently, AbraWORDabra might have been forgotten, labeled with the stigma afflicting games like Number Munchers and the (original) Oregon Trail. Thankfully, the brain training you'll receive from the new iOS trial will be unconscious, because you'll be too busy having fun.
AbraWORDabra distinguishes itself from most iOS games by challenging your language abilities as well as your manual reflexes. The goal of the game is to build words by leading walking anthropomorphic letters out of a building and into a pot. Once you get them there, you have to use the letters to assemble or complete words (depending on the gameplay mode). But you have to do so before the timer runs out, requiring you to simultaneously spell words and move blocks in the few allotted minutes.
This challenge of both literacy and dexterity gets surprisingly hectic, and the game does not hesitate to make things even more intense. AbraWORDabra presents players with progressively longer words and shorter times. The little letter people move slowly and occasionally stop to daydream, requiring quick guidance towards the bottom of your word pot. While there are score and time-boosting power-ups, they only appear for short periods and can be difficult to pick up. Levels are followed by "Float On" mini-games that involve shifting the device left and right to catch rising balloons, and while this seems like a bizarre departure from the regular gameplay, it actually serves as a welcome breather from having to come up with long words on short notice.
While this may sound tedious, it actually becomes enjoyable and addictive. AbraWORDabra is a unique game, utilizing multiple skills and putting disparate elements into a tight, fun package. The presentation is bizarre but impressive (if you can withstand accordion music, at least), and there are plenty of modes to keep you busy. Whether you're correcting misspelled words or coming up with nouns and verbs under pressure, AbraWORDabra taxes your mind as well as your fingers, and it does so without being overbearing about its educational benefits. Not bad for a ninety-nine cent title.
GameDynamo's Score for AbraWORDabra (Mobile)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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