What do classic letter dice games like Boggle have to do with Kung Fu movies? Absolutely nothing, other than the fact that they’re the two main elements in ngmoco’s WordFu. This word game dresses up its time-honored gameplay in a creative (and rather goofy) martial arts theme. It’s sure to put a smile on your face while it taxes your brain.
A game of WordFu is short–rarely lasting more than a few minutes–but sweet. First, you get 20 seconds to choose nine letters by rolling and flicking letter dice until you have a desirable combination. Then, you have 45 seconds to score as many points as you can by touching letters to form words, and then shaking the iPhone to submit them; the longer the word, the more points you earn. Interestingly, you can reuse your letters as many times as you like, unless you’re playing in “Shaolin Mode,” where you can only use each letter once.
Also, as you string together submissions, a circular meter charges up in the background. When it fills up all the way, you get special powerup dice to use. One freezes time for a little while, one doubles your score for the next word, and the last allows you to nudge a die over to a new letter. Used properly, these can extend your game and stretch your score to new heights. As your score climbs, you earn achievements in belt form, starting with the beginner’s White Belt and climbing through the ranks to Black (a nearly impossible 5000-point game).
We appreciate WordFu’s facile shake and touch controls, its realistic dice physics, and the WiFi multiplayer mode. But the best part of WordFu, without a doubt, is the sound effects. Each shake of the iPhone elicits blood-curdling hoots, yells, and battle cries straight out of Bruce Lee’s greatest hits, along with percussive slaps and blows. You can use this game as a novelty sound effect app, if you want to!
We would have liked to see a few more gameplay options for WordFu; for instance, 45 seconds always seemed a little rushed to us. But it’s still a very good buy for word game fans. We recommend it.