Innovation is a word that’s loosely thrown around by some to describe anything even a wee bit off the beaten path. As a consequence, when a game is truly deserving of being labeled innovative, its impact is a little diminished. We’re hoping that doesn’t happen to Charadium, because its premise is unlike anything else out there. It’s a marriage of Charades and Pictionary powered by Ngmoco’s solid Plus+ social network. If you’re all about social gaming and community interaction, get ready to dive into this genius game.
Jumping directly into Charaduim is the best way to experience it. Once you’re in a game, you’ll find a blank screen and a full QWERTY keyboard at your disposal. All of a sudden, you’ll see a drawing start to appear on your previously blank screen.
Instinctively, your fingers will begin typing a word to describe the picture being drawn before your eyes. As time goes on, spaces pop up indicating how many letters are in the mystery word. If folks are still not getting it, letters start to fill in, so things never get too frustrating. The person that guesses correctly earns points, and there are 15 rounds of drawings before the game is over.
One lump or two?
We didn’t notice any lag or delay playing on wi-fi or 3G, and gameplay is extremely smooth. Thanks to a recent update, Charadium now has an awesome auto-correction feature that fixes inadvertent misspellings, so you can type briskly and have your intended words show up. It’d be nice to have a landscape keyboard for those of us with fat fingers, so hopefully we’ll see an update for that as well.
Besides guessing words, you get to scratch your artistic itch as well. When it’s your turn to draw, there’s a full color palette available, allowing you to get really creative. Points are distributed based on how fast the right guess is made, so there’s plenty of incentive to draw well.
We’re impressed with how well the Plus+ network is integrated into Charadium. There are challenging in-game achievements, options to exclusively play with friends, and leaderboards that are broken down into several categories. Moving through the online menus is slick as well.
Never spend another Saturday night alone.
Like any game that’s exclusively online, there are idiots who can sometimes mar the experience for everyone else. If you play enough, you’ll find people who obsessively draw random obscene or racist images. Luckily, there’s an in-game option to boot out these losers, but it’s still an annoying issue.
Playing Charadium is a breath of fresh air on the iPhone. With the right players, it is a hilarious and addicting time. As we mentioned, it can be a drag when some jerks try to ruin the experience for everyone else. Pesky players aside, we couldn’t recommend Charadium more for fans of social gaming.