E3 '07: Spelling Challenges and More! Hands-On Impressions

Cast a different kind of spell in this handheld game that puts your knowledge of the English language to the test.

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Brain Age was one of last year's surprise Nintendo DS hits, and testing your wits in other games has grown into a fun pastime for many handheld owners. Next up on the burgeoning list is Spelling Challenges and More! for the DS and Sony PlayStation Portable. It proved to be oddly addicting during our recent visit to Crave Entertainment at E3 2007, and we look forward to getting more time with it in the coming months.

Spelling Challenges includes, obviously, some spelling bee-type gameplay, but there is more than just that to the game. There are a total of 14 word games here, using a database of 25,000 words and a whopping 100 levels of difficulty that scale based on your performance in puzzles. The first game we played was Odd One Out. In this game, the touch screen listed four words, one of which was misspelled. The goal was to identify the word that didn't belong and move to the next list. At the same time, we were working against the clock, and the faster we identified the words, the higher our score at the end of the round. In turn, the score advanced us levels, so we skipped to level 14 in the blink of an eye.

Click to enlarge!
Click to enlarge!

Spelling Bee works much like you would expect, but with a twist. On the DS, the word you must spell flashes quickly on the top screen, and a definition appears beneath. You then spell the word by touching the letters on the bottom screen with the stylus. The PSP version would appear to have the upper hand in the realm of spelling, however, since it will actually say the word aloud, rather than flashing it on the screen. Either way, you are again under pressure to spell as quickly as you can and earn points toward the next level.

Fill It In functions much like hangman or Wheel of Fortune. In this game, the upper screen shows a row of blanks where letters belong and gives you a clue as to what word fits there. From there, you tap letters you think fit until you have filled it in. And finally, we played Bomb Blast. This game is similar to Odd One Out, only there may be more than one misspelled word. By tapping the incorrect words, you blast them with a bomb, but you have to be careful to choose them quickly, since the bombs will explode quickly, penalizing your progress.

If you are into word games on the go, Spelling Challenges and More! looks like a fitting addition to the genre. It is due to be released this fall for a retail price of $19.99.

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