Developer: Juxta Labs
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5
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Asynchronous online multiplayer word games are hardly new to iOS or Facebook. Scrabble and Words with Friends were two of the first popular titles to successfully cross platforms. Since then the genre has expanded to include endless anagram variants, along with hit drawing games like DrawSomething, music games like SongPop and a bevy of other board, card and casino games. WordTag, then, does something noteworthy in simply coming up with an inventive new premise. Part Taboo, part $100,000 Pyramid, here players are matched in a sort of verbal charades.
Players can connect their Facebook accounts and invite friends to compete there on their iOS devices, or opt for random matches. They are then given a selection of words worth between one and three coins depending on difficulty and have to lead their partner to guess it using 120 characters or less. Of course it’s not that simple. The six most obvious key words are forbidden. For example, players have to describe “Teen” without using Adult, Age, Young, Ten, Immature or Twenty.
The object, beyond guessing correctly, is to rack up long streaks, and accrue coins, which can be used to grab power ups like new word selections or bombs to blow up final letters. As players’ streaks continue they level up, unlocking new words and new power ups. The game is collaborative, rather than competitive, which is pleasant.
WordTag is also available as a freemium ad-supported title, but having started with the paid version, I can’t see what sort of ads or playtime restrictions there are. I did try the free iPad version, however, without any Facebook connection and encountered no limitations, but only played briefly.
There were reports of bugs in the initial release, but this second version, in three hours of testing, had no crashes or freezing issues and faithfully carried my active games across multiple platforms.
I confess I’ve becoming something of an addict when it comes to these asynchronous games because, like for many, they fit neatly into my life. I can play a round of WordTag in under a minute and in five minutes clear a board full of challenges. But, unlike other popular titles WordTag imposes no game limits so those smitten can spend hours sending one anonymous challenge after the next.
Despite claiming a vocabulary 10,000 words strong, the one issue I encountered was repetition. I actually had three different partners send me phlegm in one hour – gross! Also, a chat feature and a way to add a note to Facebook invites would be welcome as banter is a good deal of the fun. Still WordTag offers something not only novel, but thought provoking. If the developers continue to nourish it, I can see it living on my iPhone for a long time.