It's no secret to anyone that the App Store is crammed with word games -- they're hard to miss. Considering how simplistic the genre is and how it appeals to such a wide variety of different types of gamers, it's no surprise everyone wants to make the word game that people can't seem to stop playing. To do that, you either have to execute the original formula very well, or find a way to give it a twist. With DooWaru [99¢/Lite], it's the latter, and I'm happy to report that the experiment was a great success.
As with most word games, DooWaru makes it simple to jump right in and play. You'll start off with a grid of letters and a field up top which acts simultaneously as the space where the words you type appear and as the button you submit your word with. Your score racks up in the bottom right corner, and your time ticks away in the bottom left. As you successfully spell words, you fill up a progress bar at the top, and once it's full, you've completed a level. It's all standard, actually ... so what's the twist?
What makes things get all wacky is that the letters in the grid are on 3D blocks. And they rotate and reveal new letters. Oh, you think to yourself, I get it ... I just have to think a bit faster! And then as soon as you get that learning curve down, the blocks start to speed up. Soon enough, two new blocks are introduced: one that blows up the blocks surrounding it, and one that freezes them. You can tap the latter whenever you like to buy yourself a few moments to think, but you can't control the bomb blocks, only race to beat them before they blow up that letter that you need. When I tell you that by the time you pass level ten you're going to have to be quick to spell anything longer than three or four letters, believe it. This is where the challenge and the fun come in. Think fast!
There's also an additional mode called Quick Play that gives you two minutes to spell as many words as you can, and adds a few precious seconds to the clock for each word you spell. Whether you play in this mode or in arcade mode, the game keeps track of your scores, so you can aim to beat your own scores or those of others if you like (no Game Center compatibility though - boo!).
DooWaru is very simple, but what it does, it does very well. I found that I enjoyed it more than most word games I play because the constantly changing board gave me more options. Sure, you have to learn to play fast because of the bombs, but I also found myself coming up with more creative, longer words because I had a large board to choose from, and if the letter I needed to complete a word wasn't there when I needed it, it might turn up in a second or two once the board changed again. It also didn't increase in difficulty to the point where it became frustrating, offering accessible gameplay that I imagine a wide range of people could get down with.
The only negative thing I can say about DooWaru is about the music. It's some sort of frenzied Indian melody that sounds as if you've stumbled into a bad Bollywood video and repeats over and over, and it doesn't fit the game at all. Luckily, you can hop in the menu and turn it off with a single tap. Unless you're into the whole Bollywood thing, that is, and then maybe you can practice your belly dancing in circles around the kitchen while you get your spell on.