Ruzzle is an iPhone/android word game that resembles a combination of Boggle and Scrabble. Ruzzle was released in March of 2012 but did not explode in the American market until January 2013. This two-player game gives the user the opportunity to play with friends or seek a random opponent. There are three rounds lasting two minutes each in which the main goal is to gather the most amount of points each round and end with the largest total points. The board is set up with sixteen total tiles (set up in a four by four square formation) with each tile containing a letter with an assigned value. These values are identical to those assigned to letters in the game Scrabble. More frequently used letters such as “a” or “t” (both earning “1 point”) are assigned lower values while less commonly used letters such as “k” (earning a “5 points”) or “x” (earning a “8 points”) are assigned higher values. Points are achieved by creating words by connecting letters horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. The game offers another feature similar to that of Scrabble by giving players the opportunity to utilize double and triple word/letter scores in order to garner the most points.
At the end of every round, each player receives a summary of how they measured up and what their achievements were. On this summary page, the players accuracy, longest word, swipe distance, number of words, best scoring word, and finally how player one’s score compares to that of player two. Although the only feature of this “score sheet” that actually counts towards who is victorious is the final score, this allows one to play against other people and oneself. If one is not able to beat their opponent, they can at least monitor their improvement over time, giving the game a much more three-dimensional aspect. There is also an achievement’s section that tracks the player’s different accomplishments. For example, the Not Now achievement is a reward for receiving a phone call while playing and the Juggernaut achievement is for winning against the same opponent ten times. This is the gamemaker’s attempt at increasingly replay value. By setting new goals for the players, theoretically they will have more to achieve and will continue playing the game.
The game includes a feature that allows it to be connected to Facebook and allows the user to compete against Facebook friends and Twitter followers and then posts victories and failures on Facebook. In addition, players can choose to compete against random opponents if the have exhausted the list of Facebook friends and/or want someone new to play against. By allowing the user to have a seemingly infinite amount of people to play with and allowing the user to play against familiar faces, Ruzzle incorporates the best of both worlds.
When it comes to the graphics and sound effects, both are fairly commonplace. The graphics are nothing special as to not to distract the player from channeling their inner dictionary. On the other hand, the sound effects are nothing if not annoying and distracting. The game begins with a typical chime intro and concludes with a loud gong. However, these are not the troubling sound effects. Rather the ones that accompany each successfully formed word or failure to do so. As the word length increases so does the length of the accompanying sound effect. The sounds that accompany failed attempts are alarming and distracting, inhibiting brain flow to immediately think of the next attempted word. Perhaps the worst sound effect of all is the loud ticking of the clock in the last ten seconds of the game. This not only adds pressure but hinders the player’s ability to actually make a last ditch effort to win the round.
The concept of the game is easy to pick up and quite easy to master. However, if you play random opponents you are more than likely to encounter a wide variety of skill sets. Some are excellent and you are destroyed instantaneously while others are pitifully terrible, making the game far to easy. By not adopting the idea of levels, Ruzzle fails to match people of similar skill sets. Rarely do you ever encounter someone whose skills are comparable to those of your own. Therefore the game becomes boring (for those who excel so far beyond their opponent) or excessively frustrating (for those who immediately fall too far behind to ever catch up). In addition, for those who wish to play random opponents, the waiting time can be a few minutes. Games such as these are designed for immediate play. They are made to take up short amounts of time otherwise spent doing nothing (for example waiting for the bus or in between classes). This waiting time can cause the window to close, or be shortened exponentially, therefore rendering the game useless at times.
The replay value of the game is initially very high. If you like word games, upon picking up Ruzzle, you’ll be hooked. However, after a couple dozen plays, it seems like you’re using the same words and beating/losing to the same people. There is no added challenge. Your skill level peaks and so does your interest. With other simple mobile games like Candy Crush, each level presents a new challenge with the same basic concept and they get progressively harder. However, the only difference from one Ruzzle game to the next is the combination of letters available and after a while it all seems the same. Overall, this is a fantastic once in a while game. However, it lacks the replay value to give it longevity and addictiveness.