What do you get when you mix a timepiece with tetanus?

Clockjaw. Get it? Clock… ah, never mind, it's not much of a joke, is it? Just clever wordplay, that thing that Frankenword [Free] is so good at. Take two things that share a few letters, mash them together, then run with the bizarre, overlapping chimera you end up with.

It's something of a one trick pony, but I find it strangely satisfying. It's the Pringles of word games: you know there's not much too it, it's not especially good for you, but once you pop you just can't stop. Generously, I could call it a good test of vocabulary, but it's a far better way to stretch your imagination. Picture the cougarcade from the game's description, or maybe some dwarfare. Snickers aside, it's good to engage your powers of pretend.

Not only do most of these odd mouthfuls conjure up ridiculous images, but Frankenword's developers have kindly given our imaginations a boost with the occasional definition. For example, that cougarcade? It's a noun, meaning "where mountain cats play video games." More of these, please, Xether Labs. I don't want to tweet that a word is "hilarious," I want to share the whole joke.

Frankenword gives you 50 words for the low, low price of free. Are you a master of mash-ups? You'll know once you work your way through the free content. After that, there are three more packs for purchase, each with 150 more puzzles. That ought to be enough to satisfy just about any appetite.

It couldn't play much more simply. Each word is set up with two hints, a row of blank spaces, and a collection of letter tiles. Tap the first hint to see the length of that word, then come up with an answer that uses the letter tiles you're given. Then tap hint number two, and remember to account for the spaces where the words overlap. Total cake.

Maybe a little too cake, if you know what I mean. Having all the letters laid out in front of you (give or take a few spares) makes many of the puzzles the literary equivalent of pablum. This does offset the game's other big weakness—its rare but irritating insistence on making up new definitions for words. There's also a pile of handy hints available when things get a little too complex or confused.

Look, here's what I'm saying: Frankenword isn't hard. It's just not. If you have a functioning English vocabulary, you're usually going to burn through a dozen words in half as many minutes. I am, surprisingly, totally cool with that. To flog that potato chip analogy again, this is one of the few word games I've played that really works as a light snack. I'm always down for a round of Spelltower [$1.99], but that game takes time and concentration. Give me two or three minutes waiting for the train and they'll be a lot more productive with Frankenword.

It's not the cleverest, perhaps, and that's a strike against it for any aspiring linguists in the crowd. On the other hand, it's sharp, attractive and fun. That makes it an easy recommendation, especially at this price. If you're a casual word game fan, Frankenword is the casual word game for you. Check it out; I'm sure you'll be crossbreeding concepts in no time at all.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

    Considering that there are plenty of word games to test your vocabulary (Words With Friends and Spelltower currently being the most prominent), a simpler game for those who don't want to rack their mental thesaurus is welcome. Though being free and not trying to cram IAP down your throat gets an extra star from me. Too many good games with horrible IAP design get rated too highly here.

    • Soul_of_Wit

      FYI: It's free with 50 puzzles and a buck for each pack of 150 puzzles.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

        See now that's a deal.

    • http://twitter.com/renfroam J. Renfro

      thanks for the kind words Cat Astrophy! we are very proud of the lack of ads and IAP notices/annoyances. glad you are enjoying the game. :)

  • Mr. Grizzly

    This game sounded interesting, and the wacky word definitions made me want to check it out - but after the first half dozen or so words most of the rest of the puzzles I've played so far do not have definitions. Very disappointing.

    • http://twitter.com/kzwen JMY

      Ditto. I tried it yesterday night. The definitions they came up with are half of what made this game interesting yet after finishing the entire free pack of 50 puzzles, I think a large portion of the words are undefined. Like maybe 30 or even more.

      They tell you to create your own definition and post them on fb or twitter for an extra 5 hints. (And hints are consumables, 20 for $0.99 and 100 for $1.99) Sure, I may like to create my own definitions. But I would also want to see what the devs can come up with to define them. This only tells me the devs can't come up with a definition that is real wacky or they couldn't be bothered.

  • http://twitter.com/renfroam J. Renfro

    hey guys, glad you seem to be enjoying the game. on the definitions, we wanted users to be able to create their own and share them with friends, for some laughs. We do have quite a few in there, tons in fact, but they are spread out over the paid and free levels. 

    there is an imminent update coming soon with a new set of fresh free levels.

    thanks for the reviews guys! :) we really appreciate them.

Frankenword Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 3.5