I am a big fan of word puzzles and usually have one or two on my iPad to do in those times where I’m doing that universal Mum thing: waiting for my children to finish school or whatever activity they are doing. I love word games and puzzles because they help keep my brain active, and my favourite are anagram games, particularly the 9 letter puzzles, so I was very excited to hear PKCLsoft was developing 9 Letters, and even more delighted when I was given a copy to review. PKCLsoft is an independent Australian developer and a member of MOMs with apps.
How It Works
9 Letters is exactly what the name suggests: a game with 9 letters that you use to make as many words as you can. The rules are simple:
- Each letter can only be used once (although if the same letter appears more than once, you can use it as many times as it appears)
- Words must be a minimum of 3 letters long.
- Longer words score more points
In the top left of the screen is a pop out table with the total number of words you have found, plus a table indicating how many words of each length can be found. In the example below, for instance, I have found 14 of 19 three-letter words, 3 of 9 six-letter words, and neither of the single eight or nine letter words. You can tap on the table to hide or reveal it. A running score is kept as you play.
There are several options to make the game easier, harder or more accessible, which can be turned on or off in settings. These include:
- Target mode – the central letter must be used in every word (usually a standard rule in similar games but optional here). When target mode is on, the central letter is darkened.
- Hint every ten words
- Highlight valid words (a word appears green if it is valid)
- automatic detection of ‘s’ endings (if you type a word and there is an available s to pluralise it, both words will be added to the list.)
- apply time limit for each word
- Sound effects and music can be turned on or off.
- An alternative font is available
- Display lower case letters
You can see how the game works in this YouTube video.
Apart from the free hints every 10 words, prompts occasionally appear to offer you the chance to buy a 7 letter word or a hint via your iTunes account. I haven’t bothered with these but enthusiasts may. Of course, your iTunes password is required to make a purchase, and you can prevent unauthorised in-App purchases (IAPs) but turning this option off in your device settings.
Things I love
The game is as fast or as slow as you want - If you turn the timer off, you can sit with a word as long as you like. Personally, I like the challenge of working against a timer, and I usually am playing during a quick break so that works better for me.
The huge variety of 9 letter words – I have several of these games and I enjoy them all, but for most I keep coming across the same letter combos all the time. I’ve played 9 Letters for nearly a fortnight at every available opportunity (because I love to be thorough when putting apps through their paces for reviews….. and because it is addictive!) and not once have I come across a repeated word.
New vocabulary – While I recognise most of the 9 letter word solutions, some of the words are unfamiliar to me. I’m enjoying learning new words such as empyreans and multiplet. I’m pleased to hear that a future update will allow you to get definitions of words. Lots of smaller words are unfamiliar, so if you put together what you think are nonsense words, sometimes you come up with a winner.
Handoff Feature – 9 Letters supports Handoff, Apple’s new continuity feature, so you can start a game on your iPhone but then transfer the same game to your iPad later. You can see how it work’s in PKCLsoft’s demo YouTube video below.
Definitions – This one is already in the pipeline, and I can’t wait to be able to link quickly to definitions of words. I’m hoping this will not only apply to the larger words but some of the smaller words too.
Colour choices - The colour scheme is high contrast which is great, but I’d love the option to change it to my favourite colour – blue. Not a biggie, but it would be nice.
Difficulty options – I’d love to be able to make the game harder (or not) by having an option to have a 4-letter minimum word length. The 3-letter minimum is great, as most other games start at 4, but it would be fun. Also, perhaps the option to reject the plural s, so that book would count, but books wouldn’t, (unless the central letter was an s).
I love this game and it has become my “go-to” game when I’m having a break. I’m enjoying the variety of words, the challenge level and learning new words. Being able to turn off the target letters and time limits will make the game a little more user-friendly for some who might like to play word games but find most a bit difficult. Scrabble and Boggle lovers will be sure to love it.
Secret Santa season is coming up and if you have a friend of family member who is in to word games, you could gift them a copy and I’m sure it would be much appreciated. 9 Letters is only in its first version and it is already wonderful, so I look forward to the future updates.
Price: $1.29 (Australia – 99 cents USA) until 26th November 2014, then $2.49.
iPad and iPhone (requires iOS 7.0 or later)