Starting Up with SparkyBee’s New Game, Sparky Words

Sparky WordsNot too long ago we were given word of a new start up called SparkyBee. From what we know thus far, this social developer, located in the Isle of Man, has been hard at work with a pair of social games and a new social platform. While the company has opted to keep a certain level of ambiguity on some of these matters, we were granted a look at one of their upcoming titles, Sparky Words, which it describes as “Tetris meets Scrabble.”

The overall objective of Sparky Words is about the same as any other word game: Form as many words as you can to pass each level. In this particular game, letters float upward in the shapes of honeycombs and players connect them by clicking the starting letter, dragging the mouse through the middle ones, and clicking the last letter. It certainly is an interesting mechanic as it not only creates a challenge of getting around letters that might be in the way, but when you are feeling lazy, you can just play with one hand while propping yourself on the other.

With each completed word, a jar of honey is filled and the level completes once it is topped off. But be wary, because these words are, well, explosive and when completed, shift about all the others floating around them. While this does mix up the letters a little more, allowing you to see words you may not have noticed before, it also can mess up the line of sight (so-to-speak) needed to connect one letter to the next. Of course, you can always maneuver your mouse around unwanted letters, but it does slow you down and can be rather tricky at times (if even possible). Furthermore, if two identical letters collide, they can combine into an entirely new letter that is worth more points (sort of like how “Q” is worth more in Scrabble than “I”).

Bonus Round - Hangman StyleSparky Words also has a few extras as well such as bonus words to find for a tremendous amount of points, blue letters that cost a life if not used, and a bonus hang-man style game that adds points on to your final score – which, of course, becomes part of a leaderboard system. In fact, if you do beat a friend’s score, they are sent a notification when it happens.

Frankly, as far as game play goes, the only significant complaint that can be made is that it has a rather curious difficulty curve. The first two rounds are extraordinarily easy. There is no pressure due to the lack of a timer and minimal blue letters. There is really no way to lose. However, all of a sudden, half way through the game’s six rounds the letters begin appearing much faster, making it difficult to discern words out of the garbled mess of letters. Moreover, while blue letters were a scarcity in rounds one and two, they appear more frequently in the third round with two to three on the screen at any given time, which can lead to losing rather quickly.

OMG Blue LettersFor the record, this isn’t to say that a game being hard is a bad thing. Honestly, Sparky Words isn’t all that difficult; it’s just very jarring at how sudden it changes. One minute you’re relaxed and having a good time and the next you’re going “Whaaa! Blue letters!” and panicking as your lives begin dropping.

Nevertheless, Sparky Words is still a pretty fun game; it would just be nice to have a more gradual difficulty curve. Also, it might also be prudent to let players choose what round they start on, just like they can in Tetris — this game’s comparison, no? Remember, that Tetris has infinite levels, and users could start at the tier that was right for them. This game has that same capability with its design, so why not?

Of course, all this is nothing more than food for thought. The design is solid and fun, leaving us with only the concern that it is a word game – a genre that has not seen much of the limelight lately. Regardless, Sparky Words has a lot of potential, and we look forward to seeing it when it is fully launched as well as what else comes out of SparkyBee in the near future.

[Edit: We have added links to the application since it was launched roughly a day after this preview.]