What exactly is it about palindromes that has held mankind's fascination for countless generations? Do we find something pleasing about their reversible disposition, the same way we are drawn to things of symmetry? Or is it the arrangement of the letters themselves, as though their twofold message houses a greater part of the truth that all language is ostensibly made to convey? Or perhaps it hearkens back to the days of old, when mere syllables were magic, and words of power could keep wayward angels of death at bay. Well, whatever the reason is, it's time to tap into that primal wellspring of linguistic satisfaction with 8-Bit Rocket's latest project, Palindromes Plus.
You are presented with a series of letter tiles, scrambled into gibberish. Your job is to click on two tiles to swap them, hopefully coming closer to the word concealed in the jumble. Once your word has been reorganized, you'll be moved right along to the next without delay. There's a clock running to keep you nervous in increments of 10 words a level, at which point the game will tally your score and tack on any leftover time to next round's clock.
At first, most of the words will induce some eye-rolling, as you'll get "ott" and have a hint of "a small child". However, you'll be thankful that you deposited all that bonus time in the bank before long, because the words start to get pretty darn esoteric pretty darn fast. Remember, the English language isn't renowned for being particularly palindromic, which means the game starts flipping open other languages' dictionaries to find some truly heinous fare. You'll be guessing at months on Babylonian calendars, alternate spellings of kayak, and other topsy-turvy harbingers of the palindrome gods. Thankfully, you'll always know that the first and last letters have to be the same ('tis the nature of the beast), but even that trick's usefulness wears off in the higher levels.
The game is a forgiving master, and running out of time at a later level means you can restart the challenge on that level from the main menu whenever you regain your anagrammatical sensibilities. With the checkpoint system in place and overtime flowing from one level to the next, this game becomes less of a trial-and-error-fest and more of a serious puzzler, where there's not too much pressure other than your own semantic curiosity. For a word-wrangler like myself, this is a welcome change of pace in a genre that seems more and more like it wants us to sink our teeth into our nails instead of our letters.
This is a great addition to any linguophile's list of browser Favorites, even if we're not sure about the answers to those big, scary questions, or why we even enjoy these kinds of games. I've always theorized that there's an impulse, an insatiable drive to fashion order out of chaos, to piece together meaning from the fragmented nothings. But there are anthropologists to answer questions like that. I don't know about you guys, but I've got palindromes to solve.