From the creator of Unify, Bit Pilot, and Halcyon, Zach Gage, comes an iPad release that blends a Boggle-like word game with a traditional falling blocks puzzle. SpellTower is a linguaphile's dream come true, featuring four unique modes of play that let you take your time and think or force you to build words in a rush. No matter your playing style, there's plenty of challenge in this sleek little release, and it's worth picking up if you have even the slightest interest in word games!
SpellTower works like a game of Boggle with gravity. The general idea is that your screen is filled with letter tiles you can tap and drag to connect, spelling words in the process. Make a word and those tiles vanish, allowing everything above to slide down to fill the gaps. Create longer words to get rid of bigger swaths of letters, including tiles on the periphery. There are some special tiles that twist up the basic strategies you'll employ, including blue tiles that clear whole rows, numbered tiles that must be used in matches containing at least that number of letters, and black tiles that get in your way until you make a match in an adjacent square.
Three game modes are available from the start, with one unlockable mode waiting in the wings. Tower mode might be the best place for calm, completionist spellers to reside. The board is packed with letter tiles, and you've got as much time as you like to spell words and clear the screen. Rush mode is all about speed, and in Puzzle mode, only a small chunk of the screen is filled with tiles, but each time you make a word, a new row appears. Scoring 2,000 points here will unlock Extreme Puzzle mode, which functions in the same manner only with a minimum word length enabled. Yikes!
Analysis: Even though it's immediately playable, building a solid strategy in SpellTower can take some time. When you start, you'll tentatively poke a few letters, spell words like "bat", "tops" and maybe "spring" , but you won't get very far. Soon, you'll realize the deep lines of strategy in a falling blocks word game, and you'll start creating words with future words in mind, carving out spaces on the board that are ripe for big, screen-clearing matches.
SpellTower is just about infinitely replayable, especially if you love challenging yourself to pull vocabulary words out of the most folded recesses of your mind. If competition in the high score department is more your style, Game Center integration allows just that, popping your numbers on the leaderboard so you can see how well you're doing compared to other SpellTower players.
The story behind SpellTower's development is an intriguing one, and if you're into the nuts and bolts of game design, this GameSutra article offers some nice insights on creating games for the iTunes App Store as well as making games from genres you're not as familiar with.
SpellTower is a superb word game, and its minimalist stylings make it an attractive game for anyone in your household who loves a good word teaser, even the most technologically-challenged. Grab it and start spelling!