Bookworm (video game)
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (June 2007)|
Black Lantern Studios (Nintendo DS and DSiWare)
|Engine||PopCap Games Framework|
|Release date(s)||February 25, 2003
2009 (Nintendo DS and DSiWare)
|Distribution||CD, Online Download|
Bookworm (or Bespelled) is a word-forming computer puzzle game by PopCap Games. From a grid of available letters, players connect letters to form words. As words are formed, they are removed from the grid and the remaining letters collapse to fill the available space. As in Scrabble, players earn more points by creating longer words or words which use less common letters. In November 2006, PopCap Games released a spiritual successor, Bookworm Adventures. Bookworm was released for the Nintendo DS digital distribution service DSiWare on November 30, 2009. It has also been released on the regular Nintendo DS cartridge. 
In addition to standard letters, tiles of various colors can appear depending both on the current level within the game and on the length of words being formed. Short words tend to increase the appearance of red burning tiles, while longer words increase the appearance of various colored tiles. The creation of longer words, however, does not always guarantee that a red tile will not appear. The tile colors are as follows:
- Green Tiles
These titles either come randomly or because of usage of longer words. They give the player extra points, but it doesn't help as much as any other bonus tile. Unlike gold tiles, these come down, instead of trading a random letter.
- Gold Tiles, Diamond Tiles, and Sapphire Tiles - These tiles are awarded to indicate skill in forming longer words. Using these tiles in subsequent words increase the number of points earned by the word. It takes progressively longer for burning tiles to burn through the higher value tiles. The player mostly gets these titles if he or she gives a five-letter word.
- Red Burning Tiles - Throughout the game, burning red letters appear, increasing in frequency at higher difficulty levels. These letters automatically move downwards, and if they reach the bottom of the grid, the entire library is burned, ending the game. Hence, players must take care to remove these letters (by using them to form a word) as quickly as possible.
If the player clicks on Lex (off to the side of the play area), all of the tiles will be scrambled; however, this will produce a light to medium onrush of red tiles. If players scramble two or more times in a row, a large number of fire tiles will begin to appear on the board. Nonetheless, this provides a way to create more word combinations, as over time, less frequently used letters will otherwise gather in certain areas.
If desired, the game can be played in "Action" mode (as opposed to the "Classic" mode discussed above). In this mode, the game runs in real-time, periodically adding a new red tile every few seconds. These tiles must be dealt with quickly, leaving little time to plan longer words before having to turn one’s attention to another red tile. It may also destroy the tile underneath it.
As the player advances to each succeeding level, red tiles appear more frequently and offer more letter combinations designed to present multiple word options to the player; for example, "cow", "scow", "scowl", or "scowled". In many cases, the player must overcome the urge to immediately get rid of the tile. Instead, he or she must scan the board and look for opportunities to make the best possible word. When two or more red tiles appear, the player must judge which tile(s) should be attended to first, so as to minimize the chance of a red tile being a letter that cannot be used later. If the player can't use a red tile immediately, he or she should at least try to use the tile it touches below as this will automatically be burned through. The exception to this is when a red tile appears on top of a green, gold, sapphire or diamond tile. If this occurs, the colored tile will "hold" the red tile a little longer, allowing the player to have a better chance of creating more favorable letter combinations if the red tile is surrounded by letters that can't be used to form a word. As one becomes more experienced at word making, it will become easier to make more and varied words. If the player settles for succeeding instances of shorter, simpler words, the spate of new red tiles will become overwhelming and the game will quickly end. By maneuvering sapphire and diamond tiles to the base of the board a buffer is created giving more time to deal with burning tiles. At times one needs to "risk" letting red tiles fall to clear out clumps of unwanted letters. In this case, one needs to plan ahead for words that will use the red toward the bottom of a column.
These are helpful hints on how to distribute your words to avoid getting a new red tile or to predict where a red tile will appear: 1) A word of any length contained in a single vertical column will not generate a red tile 2) A four letter word evenly distributed in two columns (2 letters in each) will not generate a red tile. Neither will a six letter word evenly distributed. 3) Especially in higher scores, odd numbered words of three letters (and later, five letter words) not in a single column will generate red tiles. For three letter words, if there are two letters in one column and one letter in the next column, a red tile will appear in the column with the single letter. Similarly for five letter words in higher scores.
These are helpful hints on managing bonus tiles: 1) Try to save/migrate gold, sapphire and platinum tiles to the bottom. This is your "defense". Often, on a difficult to clear letter, this gives you more time to maneuver letters into place above the problem letter to form a word. 2) Group bonus tiles: 3 green tiles into one word will always give at least a gold. If three greens are used to form a three-letter word, most likely a sapphire tile will be made; two golds anywhere in a word makes a sapphire; two sapphires anywhere make a platinum; three golds anywhere make a platinum; other combinations (e.g. a sapphire and a gold) do not seem to have a deterministic, if any, positive result.
Tips For Higher Scores
Look for (or create) letter combinations by adding "-tion" or "-ing" that will help in creating longer words, e.g. "evacuating" or "evacuation." The longer the word, the more points you get and the more gold, sapphire or diamond tiles you earn. Remember you can create compound words such as "bloodthirsty." Hint: you should try to form words by using a combination of the coloured tiles for higher scores.
The modes of the game include "Classic" and "Action". Classic mode is generally easier, because the player has an unlimited amount of time to form words. In contrast, if the burning tile is at the bottom of the screen the player can't scramble, in action mode, tiles move on their own, and a larger number of red (burning) tiles spontaneously appear. As a result, it is generally easier to create longer words in classic mode, whereas in action mode, the primary goal is often to simply remove red tiles before they cause the game to end. In action mode, one can scramble the tiles even when red tiles appear at the bottom of the game board (unlike in classic mode), but one loses the ability to do so if there are too many red tiles on the board.
The title features a separate high score "Hall of Fame" for each of the two modes.
The maximum score the player can reach on Bookworm is 2.14-billion. See below, extracted from Bookworm's producer,Popcap Games' website: quote:
"The maximum score the player can reach on Bookworm is 2.14 billion, because the game doesn't correctly interpret scores above this value. The data structure that holds the score only has so much space, and at 2.14 billion is where the game runs out of possible values. As a result, the player will end up with the score flipping and a large negative number (example -2,147,483,647), when increased beyond the limit." -
If the player can get the bonus word, the player gets extra points. For example: if the player spells the word "Hap", the game will give him or her 1,000 points. These bonuses rise with each matched bonus word: e.g., 1,000; 2,000; 4,000; 6,000; 10,000; 15,000; and so on but caps out at 50,000.
As Bookworm’s producer − Popcap Games — is a British company, Bookworm accepts words spelled in British English, such as “gaol” (jail), realise, snog, lorry, etc.
App Version Books
In the App Version of Bookworm you can also collect and complete "books" which are groups of words in a similar category. Once you complete the first of any of these words in a particular category you "unlock" the book, and are given a complete list of the words you must make in order to complete the book and get bonus points.
Books: Body Parts, Clothing, Colors, Fruits, Insects, Minerals, Pets, Tools, Vegetables.
In the Kindle version you cannot form words with more than 8 letters.
Games similar to Bookworm
A number of word games have cropped up that has similar mechanics to this game. One of them is Word Web Deluxe by Big Fish Games. In Word Web the player links letters in a hexagonal grid to form words in order to clean the house of spiders that have taken over the house due to an experiment by teenagers gone awry. Other examples include Magic Words Arcanum, WordsWorth, and Fire Words for the iPhone platform.
- Bookworm Readme: Credits
- "Nintendo Offers 10 Downloads to Help You Recover from Your Holiday Weekend". Nintendo of America. 30 November 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2009.