Version Reviewed: 1.0.3
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I'll admit it: the first reason I downloaded Ultimate Hangman was because it was free. I wasn't expecting much more than a few minutes' entertainment, never mind quality, and initially, the game didn't disappoint. It was free, mildly fun, and simple...but still rough around the edges. In the past few weeks, however, Ultimate Hangman has evolved into a robust recreation of the classic word game and an easy recommendation for any hangman fan. Now if only it saved my high scores...
The game itself is the classic we've all played before: you try to guess a secret word based only on its length without guessing wrong so many times that the doodle-figure dies. To make things more interesting, there are 25 word groups to chose from, ranging from mundane categories like "verbs" and "adjectives" to specialized topics such as "Kings & Pirates," "Sports," and five sets of SAT words. (There's also a "random" category if you just want to play.) The variety of words is actually pretty good, and the myriad categories provide something for everyone. For example, "Vocabulary Words 5" sometimes presented words that I'd seldom heard before, while "Vocabulary Words 1" is suitable for the very young.
But back to the core functionality of the app. Recent updates have brought us auto-save, a confirmation screen that prevents you from accidentally ending the game, and (best of all!) a two-player mode. Playing against the game's built-in library might be fun, but the ability to play against a friend is what really makes a hangman game. The system works perfectly, allowing you to type your own word before handing it to the other player. It doesn't spellcheck you, so while you risk a misspelling, at least you're not limited by the app's dictionary.
There are three graphical "themes" for you to chose from: Doodle Hangman, Christmas Snowman, and Flower Power. Let's just say that you should stick with Doodle Hangman—the animated doodle-guy slowly appears on the gallows, spluttering and muttering silently as you bring him closer to his doom. The other themes aren't nearly as entertaining, and the graphics feel cheaper. As for audio, you're (thankfully) given the option of turning off music and sound effects separately. You might want to mute both, because I wasn't impressed with either. But then again, we aren't playing Hangman for the shiny wrapping paper, are we?
Many bugs have been fixed since Ultimate Hangman's release, and I've yet to encounter a problem with the current version. However, there is one huge, obviously excluded feature: high scores. The game is practically begging for some form of online or local leaderboards; it scores you for each game, but doesn't keep track! Beating your best win streak is always thrilling; why can't I do that here?
Let's not look a gift horse in the mouth, though. While it's true that Ultimate Hangman isn't a revolutionary or "deep" experience, it's a solid reincarnation of the ancient word game and I can recommend it without hesitation. It's almost a shame that apps like this are free. If you're a hangman fan, be sure to grab it!