Developer:Mars' Toad LLC
Release Date:April 10, 2010
Summary:A word game with a fun and quirky premise that unfortunately falls victim to a few technical issues that cloud an otherwise excellent game.
Scrabble is my reliable stand-by for word games, but every now and then I want something a little different. It’s true, it’s hard to beat Scrabble, Boggle, and Bookworm, even Bananagrams (my new favorite) for their insane levels of unceasing fun, but when it comes to the iPhone, there are so many games in general, I had to seek out something new – just for kicks. As it turned out, I didn’t have long to search because there in my inbox, come this weekend, lay a chunk of gold in the form of Captain Glyph, by Mars Toad, a new word game I could explore. It’s too bad Captain Glyph can be played in 6 different languages, but none of these are glyphs, per se, somewhat conflicting with the title; then again, Captain Glyph himself is a pirate, so maybe he’s just chartering the seas in the hopes of finding some long forgotten linguistic character. That, or the developers just thought it sounded cool. Captain Glyph definitely sounds way better than the dull-sounding Captain Letter, or Captain Word, and is infinitely more dynamic than the perplexing Captain Character.
But, on to the game, shall we? The game impressed me upon its opening screen and title pages, which are all artistically drawn in a slight cartoonish manner, with well chosen colors, fonts, and sounds, cute maps of the like that reminded of SpongeBob SquarePants. This only made me curious as to why they didn’t extend this pretty design into the actual gameboard, itself, which dulls the senses with its dark brown motif, bamboo borders, and dark, wooden blocks falling at a slow pace, in front of a dim background. I suppose it isn’t too bad, but I was hoping for something a bit lighter and more airy in design, ignoring, of course, that most jungles tend to be dark given their expansive, sun-blocking canopies. The next level, The Desert, is set in what I presume to be a tomb, though it has a slightly metallic, mechanized feel to it, like a robotic chamber, with falling letters that clink together like coins. I do really like the music, though, in The Jungle it being something I can only describe as happy, vibrant tribal music, and in the Desert the music being subdued Eqyptian flute music. The object of the game is to form words of at least 3 letters, connected either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally (or a combination of these), to earn points – gold, in this game – and succeed to the next level while avoiding enemies on the board, and trying to form five letter or longer words to earn bonus points per round. There are alsomechanisms in each round that help you, such as blocks that will switch letters, time enhancers, bombs that rid the screen of letters you want, and more. Much like Tetris, you don’t have a choice in deciding which letters will appear at what time, but you can move the letters as they fall onscreen – once they strike the ground, however, they become immobile, and it’s up to you to strategize where to place the next letters so you may potentially form words, and eliminate them from the screen.
Normally, this would result in a fantastic game – and it does, to a certain extent. The one, glaring problem with Captain Glyph is purely technical: the interface isn’t quite up to snuff. In other games, like Scramble 2, connecting letters is a breeze, no matter what the angle or order, but in Captain Glyph, it’s nearly impossible to select only the letters you want, without tacking on several other unwanted letters along the way. The blocks aren’t so ridiculously small that your finger wouldn’t be able to squarely tap dead center on them, so what’s the problem here? Why can I not select S-E-R-E-N-E when they’re diagonal to one another, my finger path instead forming a zigzap of S-P-E-Z-T-R- and so forth? It’s especially infuriating because while you’re concentrating on selecting letters, other letters continue to fall onscreen and before you know it, the letters stack to the top of the screen and it’s game over. At one point I was fuming so much I started forming very inappropriate words on the gameboard, only I wasn’t even able to form those correctly. *tears out hair* Foiled again.
For this reason alone, I have been unable to complete Captain Glyph. It’s unfortunate, because I really would like to explore the game further, see the other levels, and just enjoy the game. I could, potentially, just try my luck at forming only horizontal and vertical words, with maybe one or two letters jutting out in a different direction, but even then it’s too challenging to be fun. I did have success with using my pinky finger at an odd, slated angle, but that too takes the joy out of casual gaming. I do, however, see a lot of potential in this game, and I don’t know of any other word game that gives you the option of playing in 6 different languages, so Mars Toad is definitely on the right path. I hope in a future update this gaming issue will be resolved, because I really look forward to more adventures with Captain Glyph.