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Article:    The Word on Word Games 

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Word games are a great way for kids (and adults) to "play" with words as they build vocabulary and spelling skills. Here are some good software choices and online sources that will feed your need for addictive word games like Crosswords, Jumble, Word Searches, and more.

The Software

An excellent all-in-one software title that contains 9 addictive word games is Hoyle Word Games 2002. It's great fun for practically the whole family--multiple difficulty levels for the games make it appropriate for people ages 9 and up. Players design a face as their identity, then select from games like Crosswords, Word Search, Anagrams, and Hangman. Some strategy games are included as well, and most games can be played head-to-head. Computer opponents range from an animated Grandmother to a sarcastic alien. Their skill and even talkativeness levels can be easily controlled by the player. Internet play is also an option. The program is packed with options--probably far more options than the average player will make use of. The result is an easy-to-use, customizable program that is appropriate for people with varying skills, tastes, and ages. This is a well-designed, excellent software program. [Buy Hoyle Word Games 2002 at Amazon.com]

If your daily newspaperís Jumble game simply isnít enough, itís time for Jumble CD-ROM. We love the funky retro design of this well-constructed game. Featuring a number of different variations of the game, including a "kiddy" version, this program is sure to please. The only thing we miss is the ability to pause the timer during a game. For those unfamiliar with the basic game of Jumble, players are presented with a comic pun, and by unscrambling a number of words, theyíll uncover the (jumbled) letters to the word or phrase that answer the pun or riddle. Itís a quick fix for word game lovers. The game can be copied entirely to the hard drive, so running the CD-ROM is not even necessary. A jewel case version (who needs the box anyway?) of this program is currently available for just under $10 US, and youíll find it bundled with other Infogrames games in different packages, including Word Mania. [See our review. Buy Jumble (Jewel Case) for only $9.99 US at Amazon.com]

Crossword lovers can't go wrong with Dell Crosswords. Appropriate for kids and adults, this CD-ROM contains 1,200+ puzzles pulled from Hoyle Word Games (mentioned above) and Dell magazine. Players can choose easy, medium, or hard crossword puzzles, play the game head-to-head, and choose from a few options to customize the game. Puzzles can be printed--even ones in progress. [Buy Dell Crosswords at Amazon.com]

Scrabble fans will enjoy Scrabble CD-ROM. They'll be able to play the game even when no one is around to compete with. The game's computer opponent is Mavis, and players can choose Maven's skill level. Even die-hard fans of the board game version will quickly notice the advantages of playing the CD-ROM version--the game is faster when played against the computer (Maven's turn is instantaneous), options to customize the game exactly to your liking are abundant, and the program contains a slew of mini-games and word lists that actually help you to improve your game. Note that there are a number of different versions of the game--the link that follows is the best version of the bunch. If you are purchasing the game in the store, look for a version by Infogrames or Hasbro released 1999 or later. [Buy Scrabble (with Official Players... at Amazon.com]

For a fun variation on Scrabble, you might want to try UpWords CD-ROM. Because of its more straightforward rules and scoring, kids will find it a little easier to play than Scrabble, and its multiple difficulty levels mean that adults can be challenged as well. In UpWords, players spell words on the game board grid using their letter tiles in order to score points. The twist here is that thereís a third dimension to game-play Ė letters are stackable, so that lone can not only become alone, but also long or along. Very fun! [See our review. Buy Upwords (Jewel Case) for only $9.99 US at Amazon.com]

If you like the television game show, Wheel of Fortune, you may like the CD-ROM version, Wheel of Fortune, but no guarantees. It is rather slow-moving because it faithfully recreates the show--you have to wait patiently as the heard-but-not-seen opponents take their turn, and as the "fantasy prize" sequences play out. In the end, you end up doing a lot less work with word puzzles then with other programs. Also, there is no way to control the computer opponents' skill level. However, if you like the format, the CD-ROM will please with its abundance of puzzles. [Buy Wheel of Fortune (Jewel Case) at Amazon.com]


Online Word Games

One of the best sites for kids to build their vocabulary and "play" with words is found at Merriam Webster's Word Central. There's a "daily buzzword" -- every day a new word is spotlighted, and includes the word's meaning, an example sentence using the word, and "Are you a Word Wiz?" multiple choice question. Kids can check out the archive of daily buzzwords as well. Verse Composer allows children to finish a poem by, for example, choosing an adjective that rhymes with food, a past-tense verb, etc. The results are fun! Kids can check out--and add to-- the Build-Your-Own Dictionary activity. They can also encode and decode secret messages and send their messages to friends. 

Word games for kids at Funbrain.com include spell checking (editing), silly story building, word searches (with the option to make your own), and more.

At Merriam Webster online, simple but fun word games are offered. There's a new one every day, and you can also access their archives of games. One has players completing quotations against a timer, another requires matching synonyms, and yet another tests your knowledge of word histories. There are more styles of games available, and most are challenging and fun. 

You'll find a fun game of Boggler and Crossword Challenges at Wordplays.com, as well as an anagram generator that is great fun (try putting in your full name and see what phrases you can make out of the letters). The anagram generator is just one of many excellent puzzle solving tools. 

Yahoo's games include a number of single-player and multi-player word games, including Anagrams, Cryptograms, Crosswords, and Word Searches. You'll need to become a Yahoo member if you don't already have a Yahoo ID. MSN.com has a few easy to play word games, and you don't have to be a member to play them. Jumble fans can play the game at Jumble.com, but new puzzles only appear weekly.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

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December 2001
 

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