ALPHA 9 ($1.99) by Simon Paradis Tremblay is a challenging new twist on the traditional Boggle-like word game. If you enjoyed games like Spelltower and Letris, then you will love what ALPHA 9 has to offer.
While I love word games, I do get tired of seeing basically the same game over and over again. That’s just how most of these games are — you have a bunch of letter tiles on a grid, and you need to spell out words using adjacent tiles and rack up points. It’s fun at first, but then you realize you’ve played this before, just with a different skin. So when I saw that ALPHA 9 really combines in elements of a puzzle game, I was intrigued. And it has proven to be quite a challenge that any word game fan can enjoy.
The visuals in the game remind me a bit of Spelltower, but with a bit of depth to it. If you’re a fan of flat interfaces in word games, a la Letterpress, then you will also like what you see in here. And while I don’t normally play word games for the soundtrack, ALPHA 9 features soothing, ambient tunes and delightful sounds that really make the entire experience unique in an overly saturated genre.
While you may come into the game thinking that this is just like any other word game, you will be wrong. I recommend going through the tutorial before starting a game, as you won’t really understand the mechanics until it’s too late. ALPHA 9 only allows you to spell words with tiles horizontally, but you can move letters vertically to spots where you need them, like a puzzle. If you select three of the same letter vertically, you can create a wildcard tile. Words need to be at least three letters long to count, and the longer the word is, the more points you get (of course).
There are also two different game modes available in ALPHA 9: Wall and Clock.
The Wall mode is what I would recommend playing first to get the basics of the game down over several tries. You will need to spell out words with the tiles and make sure that the columns does not fill up past the line at the top, otherwise, it will be game over. As you spell words out and rack up points, the rate at which new letters fall onto the board is increased, so you will find yourself in a spelling frenzy soon enough. If there aren’t enough letters on the screen for you, just hold down with two fingers on the screen for a cluster of letters to drop for you, and release to stop this waterfall of letters when needed.
Clock is a timed game, and you can select from one, three, or 10-minute sessions, and in this mode, you just have to worry about racking up as many points as you can in the time limit.
Both modes will allow you to clear entire rows by making words of at least four letters or more. Also, colored tiles indicate letters that will be worth more points when you spell a word with them.
Like all other word games, this is perfect for competition. There is full Game Center support for leaderboards, as well as 11 achievements. Some of these will be quite difficult to earn, such as “Maximizer,” which will require you to make a nine-letter word (otherwise known as an ALPHA 9).
ALPHA 9 can also be played in two different languages: English or French (with appropriate leaderboards for each). You can also choose to bold the letter type if the normal setting is too thin for you, as well as toggle the volume of music and sounds.
I’ve been quite addicted to ALPHA 9 since I downloaded it last night, since it is one of the more challenging word games available in the market now. Plus, it looks fantastic and has one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard for a word game, which is a definite plus. The only negative thing about this game is the fact that I will probably find myself playing it when I have other things to worry about, because it’s just so addictive!
If you’re a word game person looking for a refreshing new twist in the too conventional genre, then you need to grab ALPHA 9. The puzzle element makes for quite a welcome test of your vocabulary.