Game Type: Puzzle, Casual
Price: Free; $0.99 for ad-free version
Get It: If you enjoy word games and casual puzzle games like Bejeweled
I have to admit that when I think about Android games, I tend to focus on the ones that keep my kids entertained. But lately I’ve been hogging the phone for myself so I can play Dropwords.
This game is sort of a cross between Bejeweled, Scrabble, and a word search. You start with a grid of letter blocks and find as many words as you can before the clock runs out. The letters can be touching in any direction—up or down, sideways, or diagonal—and you can keep switching directions. For example, you could go down, to the left, then up. Longer words earn higher scores and a time bonus. After you find a word, those letters disappear, the other blocks slide down, and new ones appear at the top.
If you get stuck, you can shuffle the tiles or discard them for a whole new set. There doesn’t seem to be any penalty for doing this, which seems a little odd to me.
Modes of play and customizing your game: In addition to choosing the size of your letter grid (four, five, or six letters down and across), you can choose from three themes and six modes of play, and you can decide whether to use the Scrabble dictionary, Webster’s, or both.
Choose letters by swiping or tapping; I find that swiping is faster but more likely to result in errors. If you make a mistake, go back and tap the previous, correct letter.
Modes of play include normal, hard, lightning (which gives you just a little time), blocker (which blocks off random locations across the board), relax (an easier mode), and untimed. High scores are tracked separately for each mode.
Ambiance: This game’s look and feel are OK; they aren’t quite as sleek as something like Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies, especially in the free, ad-supported version. But unlike those fancy-graphics games, it won’t take up a huge amount of space on your phone. And if the ads bother you, 99 cents for the “pro” version really isn’t bad.
Social networking: Like quite a few games and apps, Dropwords has recently added the option to connect with a community of game-playing friends. Signing up for this network gives you access to chats, circles, a leader board, and extra challenges.
My recommendation: Give Dropwords a try. And if your kids ask why you’re hogging the phone, claim that you’re reading an important e-mail from their school principal.