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Bookworm Adventures 2

If reviews were written by putting marks in checkboxes, at the end of the tally, Bookworm Adventures 2 would be considered an extremely competent game. The storyline, featuring a talking worm and a cast of fairy-tale legends, is cute without the saccharine-sweetness the game could have easily fallen victim to. You’re given a ton of levels to complete over three sprawling chapters that bring to life classic stories directly from noted literary characters. Word recognition is spot-on. The colorful graphics and orchestrated score are just icing on the cake. But despite having all of the ducks in a row, Bookworm Adventures 2 fails in one incredibly important way: it just isn’t very much fun to play.

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Players of the original Bookworm and Bookworm Adventures will instantly recognize the formula. Taking the role of Lex, a worm who just loves books, players are tasked with defeating those that stand in their way as they work through a fictional world based on classic stories. But, the caveat here is that, instead of shooting your enemies ala Worms, Lex’s words are weapons. Given a set of 16 random letter tiles, Lex must spell his way to victory. The complexity of your words, based primarily on how many of what letters you used, determines how much damage your word deals. Spelling a particularly powerful word will yield gem tiles that will allow you to perform special attacks against your enemies when used in a word.

And … that’s it. There’s not much more to the game than that. Spell a bunch of words with your random set of 16 tiles over and over again and — hurrah — you move on to the next stage to do it all again! Your enemies will become increasingly more powerful as you progress, donning armor and using special attacks to mix up your tiles or stun you, but really, there’s not a whole lot of challenge or variation here. You’re given all the time in the world to spell a word, so there aren’t any time constraints to fret over. And while enemies have neat designs and you’ll occasionally encounter some new friends like the Cheshire Cat or Mother Goose who will give you new power-ups, the storyline, while cute, doesn’t really provide any compelling reason to continue on.

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The only real reason to keep playing Bookworm Adventures 2 is because you yourself want to play. Unlike some of PopCap’s other games like Peggle, Zuma and Bejeweled, Bookworm Adventures 2 isn’t nearly as compelling or addictive. I had a blast for the first few rounds that I played because I loved crushing enemies with complicated, fun or outright dirty words. But once that novelty wore off, I couldn’t really find anything else in the offering that I was all that interested in. I mean, you can only laugh so many times when you slam Gretel with “vagina.”

Buy it online

Bookworm Adventures 2 can be purchased digitally through PopCap Games’s Web site.

There are some new mini-games to conquer and you’ll unlock some special items that provide Lex with bonuses you can use during battles, but these additions weren’t very compelling. Perhaps the most enjoyable addition is the arena mode, where you are actually forced to spell quickly to bring down an onslaught of tough foes. As much as I really do want to love this title, even with arena mode, I just can’t help but feel completely bored by it. Despite all of Lex’s charms (and, I assure you, he’s the most charming worm in gaming), Bookworm Adventures 2 delivers a rather flat experience that will leave you searching for a deeper, more energetic game to play.

6 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

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