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Windows Phone Game Review: Buzzwords

 

I’m a sucker for word games; board games like Scrabble and Boggle are mainstays in my household. Naturally my obsession with spelling extends to videogames, with PopCap’s Bookworm games numbering among my favorites. But PopCap has yet to bring the iOS version of Bookworm to Windows Phone. Indie developer M80 Games – the folks behind the puzzler Pirate’s Mind – has risen to the occasion with their latest title, Buzzwords. This bee-based spelling game should tide Windows Phone gamers over quite nicely until Bookworm comes around - if ever.

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Buzzwords now available, doesn't sting the wallet

I’ve never been crazy about bees. Ever since one of the little honey-makers stung me on the leg without warning inside a convenience store, I’ve made it a point not to make conversation with them or invite them to social gatherings. Bee that as it may, I’m still psyched that M80 Games’ Buzzwords finally reached the Marketplace today.

The object of Buzzwords is to find as many words as possible in a field of random letters. After completing a word, you have a brief window to build another word using one or more of the previous one’s letters, thus starting a combo and eventually catching the letters on fire. Spelling words also empties honey into your pot, which provides a score or time bonus, depending on the mode. On top of the timer, you’ll need to watch out for the blue beetles that periodically pop up and threaten to end the game if not vanquished.

Buzzwords is a highly polished game right out of the gate. Not only is the gameplay fun for word-fans, but it looks and sounds fantastic. The list of all the words you found at the end of a game is a nice touch. Online leaderboards courtesy of Mogade as well as unlockable Boosters provide a good deal of replay value. Even if you hate bees like me (I was more of an ‘A’ student anyway), Buzzwords is worth a try.

Buzzwords costs 99 cents and there is a free trial. Scoop it up here on the Marketplace.

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In WPCentral’s review of indie puzzler Pirate’s Mind, I praised the game’s polish and professional-quality graphics. We learned soon after that M80 Games had a follow-up game in development. The wait will soon be over, as Buzzwords will soon reach the marketplace.

Buzzwords is a puzzle game that draws clear inspiration from the original Bookworm. In both games, you try to spell as many words as possible from a field of letters. Buzzwords adds several unique touches to the formula, such as a cool combo system. After spelling a word, you’re given a brief time to build another word off of the previous one, increasing your combo multiplier. You’ll also have to watch out for beetles; if they reach your honey pot at the bottom of the screen, it’s game over. Stars earned from gameplay can be spent on game modifiers, enhancing replay value.

After playing a near-final version of the game, I’m highly impressed with it. The word-hunting gameplay is fun and easy to learn. It's also well-suited to play on the go or at home thanks to the availability of both a 3-minute game mode and a Marathon mode. Graphically, Buzzwords looks just as great as Pirate’s Mind thanks to some sharp art and visual effects. Catchy music, robust stat tracking, and online leaderboards round out the package.

Buzzwords should launch by the end of the year for 99 cents. It requires the Mango update.

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Pirate's Mind picks up online leaderboards at port

Indie developer M80 Games may be hard at work on their upcoming puzzler Buzzwords, but they haven’t forgotten about their first Windows Phone title, Pirate’s Mind either. The game recently saw two new updates in the span of a week. Let’s check ‘em out.

Pirate’s Mind version 1.6 release notes:

  • This was a hotfix for unsupported characters in the font set preventing the leaderboards from showing.

Pirate’s Mind version 1.5 release notes:

  • Leaderboards added!!
  • Players will need to choose a username the first time the game is launched.
  • Each game mode has its own leaderboard.

In our review of Pirate’s Mind, I wished for online leaderboards, and they’ve finally become a reality. We initially expected the leaderboards to utilize the third-party Scoreloop system, but M80 switched to the open-source Mogade system during development. The results do not disappoint. The game’s leaderboard now lists the top fifty daily, weekly, and all-time scores as well as the player’s position in each category. This adds a welcome competitive element to an already enjoyable game.

Not only is Pirate’s Mind free, it doesn’t even have  a single in-game ad to offend the eye. Puzzle game fans should give it a spin. You’ll find it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. 

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A while ago we reported that indie puzzle game Pirate’s Mind would be free for a limited time. Good news for gamers: developer M80 Games has decided to continue offering their game free definitely.

Pirates love free things, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like updates too. M80 has updated Pirate’s Mind a whopping three times in the month of June. Let’s look at what's changed.

Pirate’s Mind version 1.4 changelog:

  • Repositioned the Multiplier starburst to be more visible during play.
  • Adjusted particle effects for better presentation
  • Optimized graphics to consume less memory and increase performance.
  • Fixed bug where if all coins on the playfield were the same, the game couldn't continue.

Pirate’s Mind version 1.3 changelog:

  • Game now saves audio settings between play sessions
  • Fixed high score name entry to remember last used name
  • More bugfixes.
  • LG Phone users, we are still working on the issues some of you are experiencing. Please email us if you would like to help: contact@m80games.com

Pirate’s Mind version 1.2 changelog:

  • New game mode "Dash"
  • Adjusted the difficulty progression  to be more challenging
  • Added a "Rate This Game" button. PLEASE EVERYONE...USE THIS :)
  • Many bug-fixes and optimizations
  • HTC crash issues hopefully resolved

As you can see, the move to a completely free model (with no ads!) hasn’t diminished the developer’s desire to sharpen the game. In our review, I mentioned that games were too easy and went on a bit too long. The new 3-minute Dash mode and difficulty changes to the standard mode really make Pirate’s Mind work better as a mobile game.

You’ll find Pirate’s Mind here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. Get it now before scurvy gets you!

We’ve also learned that M80 is working on a new puzzle game, tentatively titled Buzzwords. WPCentral will bring you an exclusive first look soon.

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Pirate's Mind free for a limited time

Pirate’s Mind is a unique puzzle game that combines Bejeweled-like gameplay with memory card games. Instead of jewels and cards, players try to match different kinds of coins and create huge combos. It's fun and easy to play. Plus, as our review points out, the game has great graphics and sound effects. Pirate’s Mind will also be one of the first games to utilize Scoreloop’s online leaderboard system later this year.

The good news, pirate and puzzle game fans, is that Pirate’s Mind is now free! Next week the game goes back to full price, so you’ll want to make like a pirate and rush to loot its spoils. Grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Pirate's Mind - Review

Puzzle games are a great fit for mobile gaming. They’re playable in short bursts and appeal to a wide audience. They’re also very easy to create, as every seemingly Indie developer and his brother has at least a couple of the Marketplace. Developer M80 games’ Pirate’s Mind manages to stand out from the crowd thanks to its unique game play and high-quality presentation.

Pirates are a greedy sort, spending much of their time thinking about treasure. So a pirate themed puzzle game must naturally revolve around collecting money. In Pirate’s Mind, the playing field consists of 30 coins. Every coin’s back looks identical, but there are actually three kinds of coins to match: bronze, silver, and gold. Matching coins works kind of like the card game Memory in that after flipping two coins, if they aren’t a match, those two coins will still be in the same place. Then you can flip a new, random coin and try to match it with the ones you’ve already seen.

Learn more of Pirate’s Mind’s secrets after the jump.

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