Developer: Blue Ox Technologies
Price: $0.99 (sale, 10/13)
Version Reviewed: 1.41

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★★
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

IMG_0057It’s not often that a word game comes along that’s completely original. In fact, Moxie is the only original word game that I can remember encountering since, say, fourth grade. Also nice is that it’s single-player, and the focus is on strategy and clever thinking rather than speed (irrelevant) or a huge vocabulary (not necessary, though it’s helpful). After just a few days, Moxie has quickly become my solo word game of choice!

Pay attention, because Moxie’s gameplay can be hard to explain. The game board is composed of three rows of five spaces each. Letters can be placed anywhere: in the middle, at the edges, on top of old letters, it doesn’t matter. However, words can only be formed horizontally, and must be at least three letters long. You can see your current letter above the board, along with how many letters are left in the “stack.” You can pass on a letter at any time, but you don’t get it back. Forming a word nets you points based on the letters’ values, which are different from those that Scrabble fans are used to but still make plenty of sense.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, there’s a bit more to the story. You score the most points through word chains—transforming one word into another (FINE to TINE, or FINE to FINES, for example). Be careful not to break a chain; this is a “Twaddle,” which costs you thirty points. You can also score extra points through special “Moxie words,” which carry hefty (100-200 point) bonuses. There are three types of Moxie word lists (animal, vegetable, and mineral…sound familiar?), and you can change which list you’re using in the options menu before each game.

The only thing I’d wish for is a “dictionary” option, because Moxie doesn’t use quite as many words as the standard Scrabble dictionary. Still, that’s my only gripe, and I wouldn’t even ask for that if I wasn’t playing it so often! Heck, there are even global leaderboards—a common go-to complaint in the absence of other flaws that is rendered useless here.

You see, Moxie is a wholly original, fantastic concept that’s both deceptively challenging and just plain fun. You can chose to spend hours pondering each move, or you can be impatient like me and just try to get through your letter stack. The graphics are simple and elegant; the interface works flawlessly. There’s just so much here that goes above and beyond any word game I’ve played before. Yes, I’ll always love Scrabble, but it can’t match Moxie for solo-goodness.

I don’t often give games five-star reviews, but Moxie is so incredible that I just can’t help myself. To the folks at Blue Ox Technologies: bravo, and thank you for this amazing creation! As for you readers: you’d better grab this one while it’s on sale, because it’s easily worth far more than $0.99!

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