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Bookworm Adventures

Rating: 7+ (PEGI)

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Lex the hungry Bookworm is back, this time on a mission to rescue his girlfriend Cassandra, who has been kidnapped. Standing in the brave worms way are several lands filled with countless vicious enemies!

Anybody who has played previous POPCAP games will instantly recognize the large, cartoon-like graphics in this latest puzzle adventure.

Here the emphasis is on combat! Every turn-based encounter Lex fights takes place on a single screen with Lex on the left and his adversary on the right. Each has a strength bar depicted by rows of hearts which are depleted when damage is incurred and once all the hearts are gone the battle is over.

Beneath the adversaries is a grid of sixteen tiles, each housing a random letter. By clicking on tiles to create words (the longer the better), Lex launches an attack which will hopefully damage his antagonist. His opponent then has a counter-attack from a selection of hit types available and combat continues in sequence until one of them is inevitably defeated.

When tiles are selected and used they are immediately replaced. Sometimes gems appear on the tiles instead of letters which, if used, either grant additional health or attack benefits to damage enemies over time. Likewise, some enemy attacks have adverse effects for Lex - poisoning, stunning or burning him for example - or the tiles themselves, which at worst can make them unusable for a set number of turns.

Once a battle is won, Lex moves further into the land and onto the next foe. Often defeated enemies leave potions which the Bookworm automatically collects and can be used in future combats to aid him. After several such battles Lex meets the end-of-level Boss, who is usually much stronger, more cunning and a better strategist than his minions, and defeating a Boss not only opens up the next quest but gives Lex a permanent item which he can carry. After several lands, though, Lex has more items than he can possibly carry - a maximum of only three at any one time - so some strategy is needed in deciding which ones to leave behind. Fortunately there is always a hint giving the probable abilities of the enemies he will next face.

Whenever things prove too tough and Lex is defeated, he is zapped back to the start of the current land to try again, but also has the chance to participate in three different mini-games (two of which are timed) to successfully win more potions. Plus, whenever Lex wins an encounter he automatically gains a little experience as shown in a bar at the top of the screen and once filled Levels Up to give him either more health or attack and defence bonuses. Although the player cannot choose which benefit is gained these are permanent additions so even if Lex is defeated in a land he begins it again a little stronger than before.

Despite the cartoon-style graphics and presentation, this is actually a very thought-provoking puzzle game which should cater for both child and adult players and proves highly addictive. Recommended then for when we wish to exercise our brains rather than our trigger fingers!

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