Review: Bookworm

Table of Contents

Quick Info

Gore & Brutality Magic Sex Civility Religious Objections
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Additional Notes


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A typical game

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Lex defines a term

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Dealing with burning tiles

General Information

Genre:Word Puzzle ESRB Rating:NR - Not Rated
License:Commercial My Rating:Everyone
Played on:Martha
Available from: No longer available :(

General Notes

Bookworm is one of Popcap's more famous games, and while it didn't receive a direct sequel like Bejeweled did, it did get a spiritual successor in the Bookworm Adventures spinoff series.

On the whole, this is sort of a hit and miss title. Some players will enjoy it, but others will end up looking for something more engaging after a while. The only goal is to earn a high score, and these days that's just not enough.

Story Overview

Lex the bookworm is getting a might peckish. Unlike other bookworms though, Lex prefers to eat properly spelled words, and so it's the player's duty to feed him as many words as they can.

However, as time goes on, burning tiles start appearing and threaten the safety of the library. You'll need to clear those out quickly, and the easiest way to do that is to feed them to Lex as part of a nice juicy word.

Gameplay Overview

The basic idea is quite simple: you just spell words out of the tiles in the game's grid. The only catch is that the letters need to be next to each other, forming a chain. Once you've spelled a word, the tiles will be sent over to Lex, who will promptly eat them. More letters will fill the grid from above, and the cycle continues.

As time goes on, some of the new tiles will be on fire. These dangerous tiles will burn away the tiles below them over time, and if they reach the library floor everything will be burned away and the game ends.

In the meantime, making longer words clears more of the grid, scores more points and can cause special gem tiles to appear. Gem tiles don't burn as quickly as normal tiles, which can help you manage the burning tiles that will eventually threaten the library. If you really get into trouble, you can replace the grid with new letters by clicking on Lex. This also causes burning tiles to appear, so don't overuse this ability.

There are also two ways to play Bookworm: an Action mode and a Classic mode. In an Action game, the burning tiles continue to burn through everything as time goes on, while the Classic game only has them advance when you make a move. Thus, you can plan your moves more carefully in the Classic games.


Old, yet reliable
Bookworm has been around for a long time. Despite its age, the game still runs well under modern systems.

Lex has a voice
The famous little bookworm has a number of quotes that are actually said aloud with lip syncing. These mostly include a salutation welcoming you to the game and a few comments on the gameplay, but it's a nice touch for an otherwise featureless game.

The better you are at spelling, the better your score
Longer words are worth more points, clear more of the grid and seem to reduce the chances of burning tiles appearing. Continually coming up with large words isn't very easy, but it can be fairly rewarding. On the other hand, small words help clear the clutter that will inevitably build up, allowing the game to continue for longer periods. It really helps to have a large vocabulary when playing this game.


It's rather repetitive
Other than beating a high score, there's not much else to do. While some people can enjoy playing for higher and higher scores, many others will grow bored of it pretty fast. There's no story, no feeling of progression, no awards; just a lot of spelling. That's just not enough for kids to stay interested.

Concerns and Issues

Swearing gets you nowhere
Lex knows a lot of words, but he either chooses not to accept or won't recognize foul language. The only time you can submit an offensive word is when there's an inoffensive meaning for it. For example, "fag" is an acceptable word because it's slang for a cigarette.

Definitions on the fly
Every so often, Lex explains what a word means. He tends to do this for unusual or obscure words, but sometimes it seems like he'll recite the definition of anything.

This game improves spelling and language skills
In order to be good at playing Bookworm, you need to be good at spelling. Thus, if you play it a lot and get good at the game, you've also learned new words and improved your overall language skills.