Overall Score 95%
More puzzle fun this week, as Aquawords takes a simple word game idea and turns it into a seriously addictive game. The 'aqua' in the title doesn't make this a water-based Scrabble variant; Aqua is in fact the name of the cutest in-game character we've seen in a long time. Aqua is one of many reasons for buying this game!
Arcade mode of Aquawords involves you making words of 3 or more letters from a half-full screen of letters. As you make words, a gauge fills and once full you'll have finished a level. As you play, new letters are dropped into the playing area forcing you to make new words before the screen fills up completely.
Two other modes, Strategy and Time Attack add further scope to the rules. Strategy mode forces you to make use of certain letters and Time Attack gives you a full screen of letters at all times, with the aim being to fill the level-up gauge as quickly as possible. All three game modes can be played in Easy, Medium or Hard.
Creating the words in all three modes is easy, with the left mouse button selecting letters, and right button cancelling the word. To finish a word, you simply double click on the last letter of your word. The dictionary in Aquawords is massive and never once had a problem with the words I was making. Gameplay is also very fast, with smooth responses throughout.
Further plus points include the excellent graphics and presentation. I've already mentioned Aqua, a character that sits in the corner skipping and pulling faces. The animators have done a superb job with him! The summery game backgrounds and bright visuals also help to ensure that Aquawords looks better than most puzzle games.
I was also very impressed with the audio. The sound effects are all perfect, giving you a clear guide to your progress. The music continues the trend, with the happy Hawaiian tunes creating a great mood. An especially nice touch is the change from song to song which is helped along by Aqua who turns day into sunset into night with a tug on his light switch.
With a so-far glowing review, I have to say I did find one problem with Aquawords - the difficulty, or rather the lack of it. The three difficulty settings only seem to change the game speed, which means that even on Hard, you'll still be able to get by making 3-letter words. It would have been better if the game forced you to make 4+ and 5+ letter words as the difficulty increased.
That said, I started imposing my own rules whilst playing and providing you stick to these rules, the game remains a challenge.
But enough of the negatives, I've still got to mention the addictive nature of Aquawords. I don't recall the last game I played that had me so hooked. More than that, I don't recall the last game that had my fiancÚ so hooked either! You can quickly lose track of time whilst playing, and once mastered, you'll still be coming back.
With solid visuals, great audio and addictive gameplay, Aquawords is possibly the best puzzle game I've ever played.
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