|Engine||PopCap Games Framework|
|Release date(s)||PC (November 28, 2006)
Steam (January 2, 2007)
Bookworm Adventures is a follow-up to the word-forming computer puzzle game Bookworm from PopCap Games. Released in November 2006, Bookworm Adventures combines the "create words from sets of letters" aspect of Bookworm with several elements of a role-playing video game. In the 2007 Interactive Achievement Awards, Bookworm Adventures won the "Downloadable Game of the Year". The game also won three Zeeby awards for Best Word & Trivia Game of 2006, Best Game Design of 2006 and Best Story/Narrative of 2006.
A sequel for Bookworm Adventures, Bookworm Adventures: Volume 2, was released on July 30, 2009.
In contrast to the lower production budgets typical of most "casual games", PopCap Games spent over two and a half years and US$700,000 developing Bookworm Adventures. Although the direct sales model used by the company avoids various distribution and retail fees, this still represents one of the most expensive investments in the genre to date. John Vechey, PopCap's director, indicated that this did seem to be a departure from the previous model, noting that "A couple years ago, the prevailing wisdom was that it took three guys six months and $100,000 to make a casual game. They used to be considered a low art form."
Players guide Lex the Bookworm (voiced by Chief Creative Officer of PopCap, Jason Kapalka) through a number of stages, battling creatures along the way (which are largely based on Greek Mythology, tales from 1001 Arabian Nights and Gothic fiction, while the foes in the game's sequel are based on Fairy tales, Chinese mythology and Science fiction). Each battle consists of Lex squaring off against a given foe. Both Lex and his adversary have health meters (represented by a number of hearts), which, when depleted, signal defeat. However, unlike more traditional role-playing games where players might injure their opponents with arms or magic, enemies in Bookworm Adventures are damaged by forming words.
As in the original Bookworm, words are formed from a grid of available letters, although unlike the original, the letters used to form the words need not be adjacent to one another. The longer the word which is formed, the more damage is done to opponents. Similarly, words generated using letters which are less common do more damage than those using only common letters. Each turn, players can form a single word, while enemies use one of their available attacks to injure Lex, heal themselves, or otherwise make the battle more difficult. If victorious, Lex automatically recovers all of his health between battles; however, there are certain stages called Survival Battles (still called boss battles in the first game) where Lex will not be healed between enemies.
After a certain number of battles are won, a boss of increased difficulty is encountered. If players defeat the boss, they complete the stage and are rewarded with a treasure item. Treasures provide special abilities to Lex, such as a reduction in damage inflicted to him, or more damage generated from words containing certain letters. In some cases, rather than receiving a new item, an existing item is upgraded. After the player has accumulated more than three items, Lex must then choose which three items to bring along on later chapters. In the sequel, the player can also be awarded a companion, which gives a beneficial effect every four turns.
There are 3 game modes in the first game. The different modes are Adventure, Mini-Games and Arena.
Adventure mode is the main mode of the game. In the Adventure mode, the player solves the mystery of the Great Library, fighting the opponents in order. The Adventure mode contains three books. Unlike the sequel, after the player completes the Adventure mode, they cannot replay the Adventure mode and must create a new player to restart.
In Mini-games, players can play three different mini-games and aim for high score. This mode is unlocked after Book 2 in the Adventure mode is completed. In the Adventure mode, the player can play a pre-selected mini-game for rewards that can aid them in their adventure.
The Arena mode is unlocked after completing the Adventure mode (defeating Book 3). Here, players can battle through all the bosses in a fast-paced action (instead of the Adventure mode's turn-based gameplay) except for certain bosses (Hydra, Sphinx, Professor Codex). There is also an addition of a timer bar above the grid; if it's filled, the enemy will attack whether the player is ready or not. At the opposite side, the player can do several attacks in-between the enemy's attacks by spelling words quickly.
In the sequel, there are a few additions and differences. The Adventure mode now has Books 4-6, following the numbering of the prequel. The books are titled Fractured Fairytales, The Monkey King, and Astounding Planet. The Mini-games mode is unlocked by completing Book 5, and players may choose the mini-game they want to play when there is a tent icon in the Adventure mode as opposed to being forced for a certain game like the prequel. The Arena mode, which is still unlocked by completing the Adventure mode (defeating Book 6), only contains the bosses in the sequel, and excludes Previous Lex, Skeletrox (Dance Commander), and the three phases of The Machine.
In the sequel, a new mode called Adventure Replay is unlocked after completing the Adventure mode (defeating Book 6). Unlike the prequel, a player may replay their adventure after it is completed. The player can choose any of the three books to play through; Lex is leveled down equivalently to what he should be at the chapter, and the player must keep Lex alive or otherwise having the game over. Instead of the level up bar at the top-left, the player can find the score bar; Lex levels up after every chapter. There are eight badges of four levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum), which require the player to do some certain task; for example, defeating an enemy with Poison damage, spelling a 12-letter word, or using Diamond gems frequently.
Tome of Knowledge is available in both games, where it contains all information of the enemies, their attacks and abilities, their flavor text, and secrets that the player has found. This feature is unlocked after defeating Book 1 in the original or Book 4 in the sequel.
Clips and Giggles is where the comic introductions to each book and theme music of Bookworm Adventures can be found and replayed any time the player wishes. It also features commentary from PopCap Games on creating the game. Players unlock Clips and Giggles by defeating the Arena mode. It is not available in the sequel.
The game features different tiles, and each of them have different uses. The "scramble" feature from the original title returns in Bookworm Adventures, allowing players to replace their current grid of letters with an entirely new set. The cost of doing this is forfeiting a turn, so that the enemy gets a "free" attack. In addition to equipped items, players can also earn consumable potions, which can be used for an immediate benefit. The potion varieties consist of healing potions, potions which power up the next attack, and potions which cure any negative status conditions and/or negative tiles.
While potions can be acquired gradually by defeating foes, potions can also be awarded for playing separate word-based mini-games between stages. In such mini-games, the player must try and guess a secret word, or must try and form as many words as possible from a set of letters. The more skillfully the player plays these mini-games, the greater the reward. In the sequel, the player can only have the maximum of 10 potions of each type.
The game also features different treasures. These treasures have abilities that help Lex in his battles such as using certain letters for additional damage, give gems more damage, spelling certain words for more damage, and makes some resistance such as burn, poison, power down, petrify, stun and smashing and locking of tiles. Most treasures may upgrade for best effects and improved abilities, mostly in the sequel.
In the sequel, companions are introduced, which act similar to treasures but have a certain effect activated every four turns. For example, Mother Goose gives a health potion every four turns (unless the player has the cap of ten health potions, where Mother Goose will wait until the player uses one potion), and Skeletrox upgrades tiles to form better gems.
The player can see what attacks and abilities the enemy can use, located at the bottom-right portion of the screen. Some attacks can combine two or more effects. Effects include the basic damage which damages Lex, causing ailments that harm Lex, causing Lex to miss some turns, causing ailments to the grid, stealing items from Lex, and helping the enemy.
Bookworm Adventures and the sequel Bookworm Adventures: Volume 2 received mostly positive reviews. GameRankings gave the original 78.17% while giving the sequel a slightly better 78.92%. Metacritic, however, did the opposite; it gave 82/100 for the original and 79/100 for the sequel. IGN gave the sequel 8.3/10
- "10th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards" (PDF). interactive.org. 2007-02-09. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
- "Zeebys - First Annual Casual Game Awards". Zeebys.com. 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-09-20.
- "Not your father's 'Tetris': Casual games go upscale". Deseret News. 2006-12-01. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
- "Bookworm Adventures (PC)" at GameRankings
- "Bookworm Adventures 2 (PC)" at GameRankings
- "Bookworm Adventures (PC)" at Metacritic
- "Bookworm Adventures 2 (PC)" at Metacritic
- "Bookworm Adventures 2 (PC)" at IGN
- Bookworm Adventures at PopCap Games