Mobile Game of the Week: Word Trick (iOS)

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Mobile Game of the Week: Word Trick (iOS)

Word Trick

Platform: iOS
Developer: Outplay Entertainment
Release Date: 2/14/2012
Price: Free

Trick really is the right word here. Word Trick is full of the sort of intrusive marketing gimmicks that give iOS games a bad name. It’s another Scrabble rip off that touts asynchronous social play, meaning you can play against friends at your own pace, taking your turn whenever you have the time. So, yes, it’s also a Words With Friends rip-off, complete with obnoxious and distracting ads after every turn.

In essence this game is straight-up Scrabble. You have a tray of letters that you arrange into words on a board filled with more squares than a 1950s frat party. As expected some of those squares double and treble the scores of specific letters or entire words. The most points win bragging rights and the opportunity to become completely insufferable.

Word Trick’s one innovation is minor. There are two different colors of letter tiles. Green tiles are extra special bonus letters that rack up additional score multipliers when played in sequence. If you spell “green” with five green tiles you’ll be bursting at the seams with excess points. This is a legit rule tweak that adds a new layer of strategy to the standard Scrabble silliness. Of course the same is true of Upwords, and when’s the last time you busted that chestnut out of the basement?

Those ads, though. Those ads! And the Facebook requirement. You have to have an active Facebook account to play. If you’re paranoid about privacy, avoid Word Trick. The game demands the right to access that Facebook account. That’s how it runs the head-to-head matches, and since you can’t play against the computer, that’s the only way to play the game. Also you’ll often see an alert on the main menu screen about some kind of message in your inbox. Yes, in your Word Trick inbox. Because this Scrabble rip-off is also an e-mail service, or something. That message invariably took me to the iTunes marketplace page for an app for desperate singles. I just want to play Scrabble with absolute strangers, stupid game. Don’t try to get me to cheat on my wife, too. We love each other. Don’t wreck our cute little family. That’d be the cruelest Word Trick of them all.

Word Trick’s one good idea can’t counter the three majorly annoying mobile trends that it whole-heartedly embraces. A game shouldn’t have to access your personal Facebook page to work, even if it is a social-minded competition. I’ve played online in numerous iOS games without ever logging into my Facebook. Scrap that requirement, ditch the constant ads and never send me another “message” again and I might eventually consider Word Trick over a good old fashioned game of Scrabble.