Lex the worm is one of the best characters PopCap have created, clearly better than Crazy Dave and most certainly superior to any of the characters in Peggle. It is only fair that he has been given another outing in the great Bookworm Adventures series with the fittingly entitled, Bookworm Adventures 2. After a host of stories escape from Lex’s library you are thrown into the fray with an Adventure mode comprising three separate books containing ten chapters and bosses providing you with loads of enemies to do battle with.
When you start battle you will find that it is eerily similar to the family destroying board game Boggle, but this time the words you chose deal damage to your enemies, there is no angry slinging of letter tiles in this game! Longer words using more exotic letters like ‘X’ and ‘Y’ deal more damage and if you use a gem tile more damage is done. Different gem tiles will grant you different bonuses, they can heal Lex or even poison the baddies as the worm would say.
Tiles aren’t just there to help you, they will often hinder you. The creatures you fight against all have different abilities and you will regularly find tiles being locked from use or losing any ability to damage your opponent for a set number of turns. The system works well, the game would be entirely too easy if their only offensive moves let them hurt Lex or steal his potions. Potions are objects which you use to heal Lex, increase his strength and remove all negative effects from the board. It becomes a bit of a challenge to find strong words when you find yourself limited to a small number of tiles. I often found myself using random combinations of letters to form words like hum just so I could inflict some damage. However, if you do find yourself struggling and you have the right potion you can tidy up the board to make things a bit easier.
You will, at times, feel the game is unfair, especially when you are stuck with a large number of Z’s and Qu’s. This is the one major complaint I have with the game as I found that even though I could scramble the letters, the turn I would miss to do this would lead to my death. As such I generally left scramble alone and relied on my potions to clear the board of weak and locked letters.
You will generally be able to overcome most of the obstacles though with the help of the friendly characters Lex picks up along the way and the treasures you find after defeating a boss at the end of each chapter. Personally I have found the combination of Mother Goose who provides you with a healing potion every four turns, the Bovine Boosters which deal an extra quarter of damage and Mac’s Almanac which increases the power of any adjective you type. These are just a couple of the options available, there are loads of different treasures which fill defensive and offensive duties. Being the reckless fool that I am I would charge into a new chapter with my standard array of help without paying attention to the message which tells you what kind of attacks you can expect in the chapter.
It is a sad fact that Lex will die at various parts of the game, I found myself stuck against the Queen of Hearts at the end of the first book for ages. Luckily Moxie returns to handle your mini-games which you can use to stock up on potions before you head back into the fray. The old classics are still there sitting along side three new mini-games which means you have plenty to sink your teeth into between chapters and after you have completed adventure mode.
It is the small things that make any PopCap game that extra bit special, things like the loading bar making puns about the cake in Portal and trying to divide by zero to Santa not being a word mean there are plenty of smalls things to be amused by. The comments from Lex if you leave the game for a few minutes without doing anything a great, he will pipe up with things like ‘wake up sleepy head’ in his cute little voice. If you don’t like his comments you can just make him sneeze, though I won’t tell you how to do that, it is just one of several secrets in the game.
Bookworm Adventures 2 is another example of the classy casual games PopCap are producing now, it is a really well refined game full of character and fun. This latest entry in the Bookworm Adventures takes what made the first games so good and expands on it. A great game.