Have You Played… Bookworm Adventures?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

PopCap’s Bookworm was a neat little spelling game, a grid of tiles and a time limit, as you tried to spell out words. It was, I suppose, years ahead of Alphabear. Bookworm Adventures was that idea put through a madness machine, and what a joy.

There’s a story, of sorts, about a bookworm called Lex, who gets sucked into magical books in a library accident. He must fight the denizens of these classic works of literature by… spelling stuff. Words spelt create attacks, that biff and pow at the cartoon characters at the top of the screen, while Lex ploughs ever rightward.

As was the case with PopCap’s glory years, the game is perfectly balanced, playable by a range of abilities, allowing shorter words to be effective, while providing entertainment for the more lexicographical sesquipedalian. And most of all, is very silly.


  1. draglikepull says:

    I love Bookworm Adventures (particular BWA2)! I’ve often played it with my partner as a sort of competitive co-op game, where we play together but compete to see who can come up with the best words. It’s a shame Popcap stopped making games like this after EA bought them.

  2. Bobsy says:

    You know what’s weird! No iOS version. It’d be pretty much ideal, but like Lemmings, it remains mysteriously absent.

  3. Ejia says:

    I personally cannot stand puzzle/x hybrids (whether the x is RPG, strategy, or whatever). It always feels like an extra layer of complications just to get anything to happen on the, say, RPG side, while the trappings feel like unnecessary faff that distracts from the puzzle side.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Aren’t all RPGs just a story, character development and a soldered on game mechanic though? Baldurs gate is propelled by a tactical strategy game, mass effect by a first person shooter, deus ex by a stealth game (if so played), recettear by a management sim and simple isometric action game. Bookworm, You have to build a boat etc. are just propelled by a puzzle mechanic.

      • Ejia says:

        Having to solve a puzzle to defeat a random encounter enemy doesn’t feel… organic. Neither does using rhythm game commands, as in Sequence/Before the Echo. It feels like an annoying obstacle to get your character to do what you want.

        • Kitsunin says:

          I can’t agree. I think that any game which isn’t a shootybang or Chivalry is putting “annoying obstacles” in front of what you want to do. You stab someone with a sword, they dead. Yet for some reason we still love RPGs where it takes ten stabs/magics/arrows to kill a bad guy because it creates a far more interesting puzzle to solve in the form of the strategy which the system creates.

          Whether your actions are dictated by an option in a menu or three jewels in a row, it’s all arbitrary, does it really matter whether it’s more or less so?

          As for my opinion on the gameplay…well, the only proper RPG combat system I’ve ever enjoyed the whole way through (Even though I love RPGs) is that of OtRSPoD 3 & 4. Every other non-action RPG out there has given me the feeling of a dull grind or pointless battles at least at some point along the way, unlike puzzle-RPGs. Some I even play in spite of the crappy combat (every mainline Final Fantasy game for instance).

          • Ejia says:

            I never feel having to defeat an enemy is a puzzle. Unlike… an actual (or maybe a better word would be “traditional”) puzzle. That’s the difference for me. Having to create a word or match three whatevers instead of actually inputting a command is what I find annoying.

          • Kitsunin says:

            My favorite traditional RPG combat system is that found in SMT games. Attacking the right target with the right element in order to get a bonus is literally a puzzle.

            I feel that if the ends of an action don’t follow natural laws (get shot and you are immediately incapacitated, etc.), why does it matter if the means do?

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    Bluerps says:

    I used to sometimes start it to “just play 10 minutes” and then spend an entire afternoon spelling words.

  5. Kollega says:

    Have you played: Bookworm Adventures?

    I haven’t. I probably should.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Don’t bother. It will consume 12 hours of your life and then you will suddenly realise what a fool you’ve been.

      Those 12 hours are pretty good, though.


      You’ve made me play it again, John. For fuck’s sake.

  6. stringerdell says:

    Amazing game. still wish there was a way to play it on android.

  7. baozi says:

    Yep, they were both pretty fun.

  8. Cronstintein says:

    How strange, I would have absolutely assumed this was a mobile game at first glance. They should get on that.

  9. Risingson says:

    Yep, I’ve played it, thanks to the insistent recommendations in RPS. Thanks for that: it’s so charming and fun.

  10. DrMcCoy says:

    No, but I have played Word Rescue.

  11. bonuswavepilot says:

    ‘Tis a lovely word-spelly game. I do occasionally think I’d like a similar idea in multiplayer, but then I remember how long it takes me to find a word I’m happy with sometimes, and I consider that MP would require either a very, very patient other player, or a time limit…