Words with Friends sort of took the world by storm. Everyone had heard of Scrabble, but while Electronic Arts was busy ironing out the kinks in its glitch-ridden, and vastly overpriced app, Words with Friends snuck onto the scene with a polished version of basically the same game and stole Electronic Arts’ thunder. But even though Zynga has a nasty little habit of “utilizing” other people’s ideas, Words with Friends was so solid, nobody really cared. It also changed up a few of the number points and board markings, making it a much higher scoring game at times than its predecessor.
But now the polish has finally faded a bit, and Scrabble has (finally) gotten its act together. But maybe you’re done with board games and are looking for a new way to floss your linguistic knowledge? An Indie game developer made HexaLex, a gorgeous diagonal version of Scrabble. Zynga has some other amazing options that may never have happened if it weren’t for the success of their copy-cat WwF. See, the ends justify the means.
Everyone knows Scrabble. It’s that board game you used to play as a kid. But now that WwF has all but conquered the mobile space, there’d have to be a pretty compelling reason to double-dip. Luckily EA offers you one. Scrabble is the only game we know to date that allows simultaneous cross-platform play through so many mediums. Not only can an iPad compete against an iPod, but they can both compete against Android users and Facebook players. Each person can real time chat with one another, while rocking out to the music on your iOS device.
Scrabble has a host of other features, including a queue of up to 50 games playable simultaneously (which is more than any other game in the App Store), a built-in Scrabble dictionary (seriously, why spell cheater words without knowing what they are?), and of course who doesn’t know about using your iPad as the board and your iPhone as the tile rack?
Word Scramble Challenge Edition
We hate to represent a single brand as much as were repping Zynga right now, but what can we say? Their word games are simply the best on i0S. And Scramble is the best of the best. In Scramble you’re given a grid of letters and tasked with finding as many words as possible in the shortest time. There’s an amusing solo mode, but the real magic happens online, where you can hop into games filled with dozens of people looking at the same grid as you. Unlike Words with Friends, getting smoked in a match is only a matter of minutes, not days.
The interesting thing is how you progressively get better at it with time. You might be the best Scrabble player in the universe, but the high-octane, white knuckle wordplay that is Word Scramble will take time to master. Which is great! The short matches make it easy to jump in and out of games, While the online matches are filled with people that have played the pants off this game. We can only hope that one day we’ll have the highest score.
HexaLex doesn’t have the community or the spin-offs or the brand power of the other apps on this list, but what it does have is an intriguing premise and a polished execution. By adding diagonal plays to Scrabble’s horizontal and vertical moves, HexaLex has expanded the scoring opportunities by a huge amount.
You can hook up using Local Play, or take it online to face off against friends or random opponents. HexaLex really shines online, but perhaps its best feature of all is the ability to “Brag” after an impressive word combo, which allows you to post your incredible scores on Facebook. We can only think of a handful of times that this would be worth doing (including our triple word “ATAXIAS” with triple letter on “X” one time.)
Hanging with Friends
Hanging with Friends is Zynga’s attempt to leverage Words with Friends’ incredible popularity into a brand capable of spinoffs. But don’t let that give you the impression that Hanging with Friends is exactly the same as WwF. Hanging is more of an updated version of Hangman than anything else. In fact, your avatar hangs on balloons over a lava pit. Each time you guess something incorrectly, the balloons pop.
There’s a lot more strategy involved than you might think from a game of Hangman, however. Each “guesser” has a certain number of guesses, but if you’re the one creating the word you can give them as little as three guesses in a turn by making your word as long as possible. Sometimes, however, the best option is to keep is short with obscure letters.