Capsule Review: Bookworm Adventures Volume 2

Spelling, contextualized with lightweight RPG tactics and resource management.

A spelling game framed as a simple RPG, nearly identical to its predecessor. Progress through a series of combat encounters, attacking by spelling words using a semi-random pool of letter tiles that are replaced when used. Longer words or those with less common letters deal more damage and award bonus “gem” tiles which confer a variety of beneficial effects when used, such as healing you or poisoning the enemy. Enemies have their own attacks which will damage your health and sometimes confer various negative effects - including to the letter grid, such as causing certain tiles not to be worth any points. As you progress through the game you earn equippable treasures that have varying bonuses such as increasing your defense or causing metal-related words to do extra damage. There’s also a story, though it can be safely ignored.

There are a few minor changes and additions over the original Bookworm Adventures. Along with the treasures, there are now companions to take into battle who provide different kinds of bonuses, such as granting you a health potion every four turns. There’s also a new “rainbow” gem tile that can be used as any letter and is earned by using three different types of gem tile in a single word, which presents a new goal to push for mid-combat and encourages you to actually use the gems instead of stockpiling them for emergencies. Balancing this out, enemies have new types of attacks and there are also endurance battles that don’t heal you between enemies.

The added tactical depth is a slight improvement but the game is mostly more of the same. The RPG mechanics are still shallow and still only there to create a context for the spelling. Combat still provides clear and frequent milestones, since you play to defeat enemies rather than just rack up points until you lose, but doesn’t provide much variety. If you enjoy spelling words, this is a fun way to approach it - if you don’t, the RPG trappings won’t change that.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game. There’s apparently an “Adventure Replay” that serves as a New Game Plus and a post-game Arena mode that changes battles from turn-based to real-time - I didn’t play either one.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

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