Word Fighter grew out of developer Feel Every Yummy’s love of two games: Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and Words With Friends. They decided that they wanted to combine the speedy, head-to-head competition of Puzzle Fighter with the linguistic acrobatics of Words With Friends, and thus, Word Fighter was born.
The Puzzle Fighter influence is plain to see. The character select screen (currently six characters) contains super-deformed incarnations of famous writers. My personal favorites were Howie, a small, nerdy kid that fought alongside Cthulu (think BlazBlue’s Carl and Nirvana), and the black-clad, Raven-toting Edgar. Each character is balanced in a certain way, able to use special abilities to thwart enemy attacks or do more damage, but more on that in a minute.
Combat itself is reminiscent of the game Boggle. Each player gets to use one side of the screen, and is given a box of seemingly random letters. They slide their finger along the screen (going up, down, right, left, or diagonally from one letter to the next) and try to spell various words. When a word is spelled, the chain of letters flies from one character to the other, doing damage based on how many points each letter is.
Of course, there are certain rules in place to keep the game balanced. People cannot use the same word multiple times, and the letters are randomized based around Feel Every Yummy’s internal algorithm that ensures that there are always playable words. In traditional fighting game fashion, when someone loses all of their health, they’re defeated. Win two of three rounds, and you’re victorious.
This is where the aforementioned special abilities come in. Activated by tapping on symbols on a bookmark next to the letter box, abilities range from giving your next word double (or even triple, in one character’s case) damage, to flipping the opponent’s letter box upside-down, to forcing them to spell words backwards. The first time I played the game, I hardly paid these abilities any mind, focusing instead on just spelling my own words, but as I got more comfortable with the game, I started watching my opponent’s activities, waiting to flip their letter box until they were halfway through spelling something, just to slow them down (and frustrate the heck out of them). While most of the time, I focused on my side of the iPad, I’ve got a feeling that higher level play can get pretty tactical.
Word Fighter is a concept that works much better than I would have expected. Aside from being the fastest word game I’ve ever played, the fighting game-style format made the competition a lot more intense than other word games on iOS.
Word Fighter will be released on the iTunes App Store by the end of the year.