PopCap is known for creating addicting games that sometimes have unique and original twists. Bookworm Adventures was one of these unique games that did quite well for the company. Inevitably, the sequel has arrived and while it is generally more of the same, the same — in this case — is a very good thing.
In Bookworm Adventures Volume 2 you are Lex, a bookworm (naturally), and a freak incident in your library causes storybook characters to escape. Lex is pulled into the books and is trying to discover what is going on as he battles through the creatures and characters he meets. During his adventures Lex battles characters from the Mother Goose fairy tales, Folklore, and Sci-Fi.
Bookworm Adventures Volume 2 is a puzzle game based on words. Think of it as Scrabble meets an RPG meets a strategy game. Every book (there are three of them) has you working through 10 levels, each with some enemies and an end boss. As you play through the game you are presented with a tile of letters and you must spell a word to ‘attack’ your adversary. The longer the word and the rarer the letters used equates to a more powerful attack. As you spell longer words you are also given special colored tiles that add effects or damage bonuses to your attacks.
On the flip side, your enemies can also hit you with status effects that lock tiles, make them worth no points, or automatically cycle them each round. This gets challenging especially when you are trying to lock in letters for a really complex word to decimate your opponent quickly. The game starts off deceptively easy, but as it progresses you find yourself trying to come up with better and better words to try and eliminate your enemies quickly.
To help you battle the progressively harder enemies, you are given items throughout the game, some that must be equipped and others that are single use items. Before each level you are presented with a loadout screen, this enables you to select a partner like the Cheshire Cat or Mother Goose and two enhancement items.
These items give bonuses like clearing stat elements as well as attack enhancements, etc. During the course of the game, Lex also levels up resulting in the player either getting increased stats or health as he gains power. The items you use during battles are the typical ones that restore health, increase power, and clear status effects.
Graphically the game is solid if not spectacular. The colors are vibrant and the assorted creatures and enemies you encounter are very well represented. Spanning many different genres, all of the creatures and characters are instantly identifiable which pulls you into their worlds even more. The animation is minimal but still very effective as the game is really about your spelling prowess, the rest is just gravy.
The audio is probably the weakest point of the game. Lex is very high pitched and his sound bites are annoying. When the game starts, he munches on the word "loading" and the crunching sound is very loud and hard on the ears. This game is not fully voiced and the music is very generic, so losing the audio and playing your own music in the background is the way to go.
One of the highlights of the game is the quirky humor present in every aspect of its presentation. When levels are loading you are presented with humorous notes that make you pause and smile. During gameplay every creature/character has a short bio under their stats that is always worth a read and the attacks all have interesting names like ‘Off With His Head’ or ‘Objection!.’
I have always been very good at spelling and have an extensive vocabulary so I played this game with great enjoyment. The preparation and strategic elements inherent in waiting for that one letter you need to spell ‘pheromone’ or ‘triumphant’ make you continue round after round. It is easy to play through the first book with short quick words, but pushing out longer words one after another in the latter half of the game is essential.
Bookworm Adventures Volume 2 is not for everyone, but I recommend the game wholeheartedly if you are a fan of word puzzles. The difficulty ramps well and you will quickly be racking your brain to come up with words that have x’s z’s or v’s in them and having a great time doing it. Bookworm Adventures Volume 2 is available at PopCap’s website right now and there is a trial version available so you can try before you buy.
Bookworm Adventures Volume 2 is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Animated Blood, Mild Cartoon Violence.