WordsUp! Academy (Wii U) Review

By Nikola Suprak 23.02.2017

Review for WordsUp! Academy on Wii U

If there is anything that is likely to kill the enjoyment of a game, it is someone trying to sneak some fancy book learning into the title. Super Mario World wouldn't have been more fun if the player had to answer topical political questions in between each level, and people are far less likely to play a game if it feels like homework. Thus, when Words Up! Academy advertised itself as "the perfect complement to your language course" it was hard not to immediately run screaming in the opposite direction. Still, regardless of what the game is trying to teach everyone, there is a decent puzzle game at its core here that is fairly enjoyable in spite of being so basic.

The basic premise here is fairly simple. Each level gives out a handful of different letters, and the challenge is to spell as many words as quickly as possible using only these letters. Story mode pits the player against an opponent, and words need to be found and spelled out quicker than he or she can put them together. It is a very simple sort of puzzle, and basically the only trick the game has, but it works fairly well in small doses. It is a fast past, quick thinking sort of puzzle, requiring the player to scan through the letters and try to figure out what words can be thrown together from them. It is a fun little way to kill ten minutes here and there, particularly for people that are fans of word based puzzles.

There are a handful of different modes here, but really it is the same basic thing regardless of which mode is selected. There is the standard story mode, but also a versus mode, free play mode, relaxed mode, blitz mode, and classic mode. That sounds like a lot of different options, but it really doesn't change much between all of the different modes. There are some minor differences, and for example blitz mode will shuffle up the letters every once in a while, but it is all the same thing. Even in one mode, all the puzzles in it are really only minor changes on the very first one in the game with only different letters used to tell them apart. This isn't like a crossword puzzle either, where sure they are all variants on the same idea but the clues are different enough between puzzles to make enthusiasts want to go down and track down new ones. Changing the letters does make the words that can be spelled different, but the basic puzzle here is exactly the same regardless of the specifics. It causes the game to stagnate long before it is over, and while it is enjoyable enough to run through a puzzle or two, this isn't the kind of game people are going to be able to spend an entire afternoon on.

Screenshot for WordsUp! Academy on Wii U

Another issue here is that some of these words are far too esoteric for most people to be able to figure out what they are. In any batch of letters there will be some very common words, but then there are others that even the people writing the dictionary are going to think got in there by mistake. Even people with good vocabularies are going to get stuck at parts, and it isn't particularly fun cycling through letter combinations trying to figure out which one was apparently a word so obscure that if it was put in Microsoft Word it would immediately get a red squiggly line underneath it. This is going to be particularly frustrating for younger players, who based on the simple aesthetic are probably supposed to be the target audience for the game. Obviously, the game isn't going to limit the combinations to "common words most people know" so a little frustration here is to be expected. It still doesn't make things any more fun, though, and it makes things more of a slog to get through then they already were.

Additionally, the game allows vocabulary to be tested in six different languages, including English, French, and Spanish. This is good for multilingual players, but the game seems to have some delusions it can be used as a learning tool, which is decidedly less good. One of the advertised features of the game is that it serves as a perfect complement to a language course, which is a pretty bold claim the game never has any interest in backing up. It would be like if the new Madden title was advertised as the perfect complement to physical exercise, and just because something is kind of tangentially related to a subject doesn't mean it complements it. There is absolutely no world where this is going to help people build their vocabulary in any language, as the game doesn't really offer context to the words it wants spelled. There isn't enough here to be a proper learning tool, and at times I wonder if there is enough here to even be a proper game.

Screenshot for WordsUp! Academy on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

For all the different ways it tries to dress itself up, Words Up! Academy is really just the same thing over and over again. That does not necessarily make it a bad game, but it is an extremely simple one based on one very specific type of puzzle. For fans of this type of puzzle, this would probably be worth the purchase, but it is hard to see anyone who isn't an extreme fan of word puzzles to get any sort of enjoyment out of this at all. Even those that are fans might have a hard time keeping interest the entire time, because this game is truly an exercise in repetition. It does a good job dressing up this one type of puzzle the best that it can, but ultimately this is going to be a niche title that really only appeals to hardcore word puzzle enthusiasts. Both of them.

Developer

CoderChild

Publisher

CoderChild

Genre

Educational

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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