Tuesday, February 17, 2009

iPhone Game Review: Textropolis

Are you a fan of Text Twist on Yahoo Games? Do you like to find hidden words in other words? Are you the type of person who likes any and every word game? If so, then the new word game from EeeenMachine is the game for you.

Textropolis is a basic word finding game. You are presented with cities from around the world and have a goal of finding the hidden words that are in each and every name. Cities like Kingston and Amsterdam are just a few of the thirty-some cities with nine-letter names that are featured in Textropolis. Take the city name, find as many words in it as you can, and grow your points (population). That is the goal of Textropolis, plain and simple.

There is something about the iPhone that makes it perfect for word and letter games. The touch controls, and the overall layout of the phone, makes the iPhone the perfect device for these sort of things. There is something right in just tapping a letter, as opposed to typing it, that makes these games feel so good. Plus, as they are highly addictive (you always want to find harder and harder words), they are perfect for your bus ride into work.

Textropolis starts you with just a single unlocked city which has 95 4+ letter words hidden in its name. Just start to type out a word, hit submit, and grow your city. As you complete words, your city grows, and you population (score) increases. Each time you complete a word, the definition of it is pulled across the screen by a small animated plane. This is a nice little touch to the game, though I often disagree with the definitions. After you find, and submit, just 10% of the words you are given a new city, and can start playing over there. If you get stuck, Textropolis allows you to sacrifice 1000 people to get a hint. I wonder how that works morally.

Textropolis has several things going from it. For starters, the simplicity of the game is exceptionally nice. I love it when I can just get into a game, no pressure, no stress. The lack of a time clock, or any of the other usual suspects in word games, makes this game nice to play. The fact that I can play for as short or long as possible also makes the game nice. The interface, which is simply touching letters, is well done and makes Textropolis one of the better word games currently out for the iPhone.

Another reason that Textropolis stands out from the pack is the fact that it has little touches that are unique and interesting. From the definition being pulled by an animated plane, to the points being represented by populations, the game seems to be full of these little add ons. They even have a new skyscraper built every 10% of the words you get. These little things make the game feel polished and well thought out. Plus, they go with the city theme quite well.

Textropolis, however, also has a few problems. With some of the cities having 130+ words hidden in their nine-letter name, it is exceptionally hard to remember which words you have entered. While the developer has the words scroll across at the top of the screen, it is hard to read all of them and it is even harder to remember which have already passed. Another problem is that the game is missing some words and some of the definitions are wrong. This seems like a simple mistake as it is hard to find all words that there are, or get definitions right when we have many. I suggest that the developer start a submission link on his site to collect this sort of thing, and let the users help make the game better. This sort of user-help makes us feel appreciated and like the game even more.

There are two main features that should be in Textropolis but are not. For starters, there should be a worldwide high score board. Sure, we would all eventually end up with the same score, but you could do something odd with it. How about make it a challenge, two people can play head-to-head, trying to get highest first. Something like that would make the game replayable and quite entertaining. Also missing, is a delete word button. If I make a word that is not real, or that I have already used, I have to delete the letters one-by-one. This system is slow and tedious, and makes that part of the game unenjoyable. This button should have been there from the start, and it needs to be added ASAP.

Overall, I feel that Textropolis is a good game. The gameplay is fun, the interface is well built, and the whole game feels well designed around a common theme. Plus, it is quite addictive. It is missing some features, which holds it back in the ranking, but it is still a great game. Plus, at $1.99, it is not breaking your bank. I believe that you will enjoy Textropolis and should go grab it today.


eeenmachine said...

Thanks for the review!

Delete word button: Hold down the backspace key, and the entire word is deleted.

High Score Boards: The game is unfortunately too easy to cheat at to support high score boards.

Barga said...

thanks for letting us know about the auto delete built in

that said, I still think a high score type system would work. Say you let two people play against each other on wifi, or something like that. They are friends (and probably not cheating therefore) and you can have it timed then. Something fun like that


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