What words can you pull from a string of seven letters? For example, let's take ROWOWOR. At the beginning of the string is "row", which obviously means a set arranged in a linear fashion. In the middle is "wow", which is either an expression of surprise, or the act of impressing someone. At the end is "wor", which is of course, referring to the Wizard of Wor... Okay, that one's a stretch.
In any case, you now have the basic gist behind Tonypa's new word game creation, ROWOWOR. Your goal is to rack up points by creating as many unique words as you can within a string of seven letters. Each level begins with two letters already set in the row for you. The next letter appears up top, and the next two letters in the queue are located below. Using your mouse, line up each letter in the place where you want to insert it, and click to place it there. If a word of three or more letters is formed, it turns green, and you'll receive points for it (if you don't break it apart before the end of the round). Remember that you can't change the order of the letters, so make all of your placements carefully. The round ends when you fill the row with seven letters. Your score for all your words is added up, and the board clears to make room for two new starting letters. If you failed to make any words, your game ends.
And in a nutshell, that's ROWOWOR. However, there's one more tricky rule: Each word can only be used once. Your list of words that you've used is recorded (but hidden), so while you might get away with using "eat" and "see" in one round, not only will you not get points for them the second time around, but they also won't help you advance to the next level. So instead of sticking to your safe and easy list of "Cat in the Hat" words, you've got to push for the more complex words (Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys?) in order to stay alive longer.
The reward for longer words drastically increases as well. While three-letter words are a measly 10 points, four-letter words are 25 points, and five-letter words jump up to 100 points. If six-letter words are worth a whopping 500 points, you can only imagine the tremendous boost your score will get if you can nail down a seven-letter word. Also, if you manage to include all seven letters in at least one word, you get a 150-point bonus.
Analysis: Once again, Tonypa delivers a clever puzzler in a simple-but-catchy style. In what could be considered his first word game (okay, there was White is Not Enough, but that was a word association game), you can still see his talent for spinning a simple idea to make a whole new challenge.
One concern with most word games is the quality of the dictionary, and the word list for ROWOWOR is quite adequate. You won't find a lot of obscure three-letter words that Scrabble experts memorize, or words that crossword puzzle makers use in emergencies, but just about all of the words you'd use on a normal basis can be found here. (Besides, who uses "cwm" in everyday conversation anyway?)
In terms of difficulty, the game is balanced so that any player can have a good run for their money, regardless of how many dictionaries they've memorized. The kicker that can still make or break a game is the random letter distribution. While the odds of getting a certain letter seem to run parallel to common letter distribution patterns like ETAOIN SHRDLU, you still run into the occasional round with Q, J, X, a few A's, and nothing else to help you out. That's just an element of luck you have to put up with, but most predicaments give you a fighting chance.
ROWOWOR might even serve as a deeper challenge for veteran wordsmiths. Most word games ask you to rearrange the given letters to make up a list of words, but here, your rearranging abilities are limited. There are always two (or more) letters that can't be flip-flopped, and you must work around this restriction by tweaking everything you've ever experienced in a word game. Anagrams are fun to play with, but anagrams with a ball and chain can become vicious. The three-letter words are an easy opt-out, but how long can you survive with them dwindling away?