Word games, like escape games or tower defense games, seem to be one of those genres that you either really like or just don't get. And that's okay. People are wired differently, and what tickles the brain of one gamer leaves another one cold. But here's a word game that may change how you think about word games.
Word Bubbles, from the brain-training gurus at Lumosity, purports to exercise your capacity for speedily processing vocabulary, meaning it might actually alter the very fabric of your mind, for the better enjoyment of word games from Scrabble to Jumble. Impossible? Possibly! But in any case, word nerds will still find Word Bubbles highly enjoyable, challenging, and highly, highly addictive.
The mechanics of Word Bubbles are straightforward, yet clever. Each round (or "day") gives you a set of three letters and a clock. Your job is to type and enter as many words that start with those three letters as you can, which naturally earns you points. To the right are a range of numbers from four to 13, one of which rises every time you enter a word with the corresponding number of letters. Each of these word bubbles (really number bubbles, I suppose) can only rise three times before it pops and transforms into a friendly star. The more stars you earn, the more points you get, but you can't enter words of a given number of letters more than three times. In this way, the game encourages you to enter words of many sizes, stretching your ability to come up with new words that fit your remaining bubbles in a limited amount of time.
I'm not sure how to evaluate the brain-training aspects of Word Bubbles. That's a question for psychologists, and I am but a humble game reviewer. I can only speak for my own brain, and that Word Bubbles has fiendishly warped it forever. While an individual game is fairly short, lasting but three rounds, I find myself compulsively playing game after game, like eating potato chips. Even when I am not playing, the game haunts me like a specter, and during bouts of insomnia I lie and wonder how many 5-letter words begin with "spl," or if there are words beginning with "rac" that don't have "race," "rack," or "racket" as their root. Word Bubbles encourages you to improve your score, and if Lumosity manages to break your will with its ceaseless registration prompts, you can even keep track of your best score from day to day. Even if it doesn't make you a word game fan, Word Bubbles is sure to be a tempting offering for preexisting word nerds everywhere.