If you’re a fan of the English lexicon and all its quirks, or just enjoy playing mobile games that are more wordy and less about physics, then here are five, free, must-download options for iOS.
From multiplayer strategy games to, well, squawking chickens that cluck as you click on different letters of the alphabet, you’ll be surprised how many different and creative language options there are.
Words with Friends
Words with Friends is Zynga’s take on the family favourite boardgame, Scrabble. It’s pretty much the exact same thing, but with more bonus tiles and a bigger bag of letters.
You can either play against your friends, or compete randomly with others online (we’re guessing “Words with Strangers” didn’t have the same catchy ring).
Either way, you’ll learn new words every day, and Zynga has included extra bits like the ability to chat with whoever you’re playing against, Word Strength (to see how good you are) and Hindsight, which shows you the best word you could have played.
Words with Friends is a tried-and-tested game you’ll be playing for months, if not more.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Can you imagine a word and a strategy game combined? With a beautiful, minimalist layout, Letterpress is a unique, highly-competitive two-player game that takes time to master… but once you get it, it becomes strangely addictive.
You’ll take turns making words using a 5-by-5 grid of letter tiles. The letters you tap turn different colours and depending on their location on the board (and what colour they turn), your opponent may not be able to play them.
It’s actually quite complicated, and you’ll have to work out your own game strategy if you want to unblock your opponent’s tiles and score points.
Letterpress is interesting, mostly because it’s a word game that is not about coming up with as many words as possible in a short amount of time, but rather about thinking strategically in a way that will get you the most points and reduce your opponent’s chance of winning.
Rating: 5 Stars
Spell Gems may look like Bedazzled, with all those sparkly gems taking up your screen space, but it’s essentially a busy word search game with a magic theme.
It’s simple: you need to make words, but if you do so using three of the same coloured gems in a row, you’ll win coins that can be used for in-game power-ups.
Want to extend your gameplay over and above the given game time by 3 minutes? It will cost you 5 000 coins. (You can also spend real money on gems, or trade coins for gems if you’re that way enclined.)
Spell Gems is not the most exciting concept, and the interface is a bit too busy for my liking, but it does have some interesting gameplay elements like the ability to backtrack over already-selected gems to make up new words.
And yes, you can also play/host multiplayer matches online with a random opponent via Apple’s Game Center.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Like Boggle? Ruzzle is Boggle on steroids. You’ll have to quickly – really quickly – spell words by swiping your fingers across the board, going in any direction as long as one letter piece is connected to the previous letter of the word.
Each round is two minutes long and there are three to get through against random online opponents… unless of course you know someone else playing Ruzzle or have challenged a friend via Twitter or Facebook.
To add to the fun, some letters have Scrabble-esque bonuses like double word or letter score. You’ll also level up as you slowly improve your experience, accuracy, swipe distance and so on.
Rating: 4 Stars
Chicktionary is a fun, poultry filled anagram-ish game with a country western-inspired soundtrack that presents you with three clucking game modes: Quick Play, Journey (specific egg-citing challenges) and Classic, where you’ll have all the time you need to find every hidden word.
Each mode is comprised of seven chickens, each with a different letter. It’s your job to “fill up” the egg carton on the top of the screen with all the words those letters can mix up and make.
Stuck? You’ll find yourself accumulating golden eggs as you play and these can be used to unlock words and so on. Chicktionary is free, but expect some annoying ads in the middle of everything if you don’t upgrade to the premium version.
Rating: 4 Stars