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Super Text Twist (PC) artwork

Super Text Twist (PC) review

"Feel free to eat all the cod you want, but koi is not on the menu. Pay for your fish craving with yen, but smaller denominations such as ren are not accepted here. You can bring your sis but not your bro. You can be an ace or a con, but not a pro. Bod, bio, ern, ave, mot and eek will be refused. Sic, tun, roc, pus, dun and bur will all eke by. Maybe you think this is a gyp. The game won't hear that either."

There were two ridiculously simple time-killing games I was foolishly addicted to in college. One was Minesweeper, but those bizarre tales of heated dormitory one-upping will have to wait for a day when both the embarrassment and alcoholic haze subside. The other was Text Twist, freely available wherever an internet connection is present, a blessing when assignments weren't imminent and a curse as deadlines neared.

How maniacally addicted to Text Twist was I? I programmed my own version of it for an advanced programming course on data structures and sorting; I was playing so much of it at the time coding the game as a final project was obvious. Stripped of the bells and whistles and the appealing interface of the online version, it worked without a hitch and was surprisingly easy to implement in Java*. This was just not a complicated game. Why was I playing so much of it? Even with this realization I still couldn't stop passing the dull minutes in lecture with this mindlessness. Had I paid attention, I'd probably have learned to replicate the whole thing.

* Coincidentally enough, the real Text Twist is coded in Java as well.

For the uninitiated (which I assume there are few -- you're probably all playing the free version I linked by now), Text Twist most resembles the Jumble puzzles appearing in hundreds of U.S. newspapers as a property of Tribune Media Services. They're a constant in the comics, classifieds or whatever back page your local rag stashes its puzzles. Given five or six scrambled letters, your goal is to form an English word that is an anagram of the original set.

Text Twist follows the same track, only all clues are six letters long. Moreover, to boost your high score, you can also guess smaller three, four and five letter words buried in the scrambled letters. You need to guess the six letter word though; failing to do so will result in a game over and a reset of your total score. Guess it correctly within the allotted two-minute thirty-second window and you'll be able to carry over your current score to the next clue. Should there be two or more possible six letter words -- depend and pended, for example -- only one is necessary for progression.

On the left side of the screen are blank white tiles that will turn over to reveal correctly guessed words. This list of recognized answers is not in alphabetical order, but it is alphabetically grouped, so that if you see an unknown three letter word sandwiched between aim and awl you can be certain it will begin with an 'A'. Using some common sense here can make the guessing substantially easier. Should you be completely stumped, hitting the space bar will reshuffle the current arrangement of the letters; it's not likely but possible to luck into a correct answer as the timer ticks down and you're still at a loss.

Simple as that. Only not.

Text Twist has some curious perplexities in its library of accepted words, enough so to drive any Scrabble buff or experienced wordsmith batty with its distinctions. Nog, an alcoholic beverage made from beaten eggs, is not recognized. Erg, a vast span of desert covered by sand, is, and the archaic ted, meaning to strew or spread for drying, will gladly be accepted. Onomatopoeias will differ; feel free to boo, but don't ooh or aah. Ogres may not be much fun but are still welcome to this party while all orcs will be shown the door. Commonplace slang such as max, sax, or rad that is all but considered formal these days will still be turned away. Feel free to eat all the cod you want, but koi is not on the menu. Pay for your fish craving with yen, but smaller denominations such as ren are not accepted here. You can bring your sis but not your bro. You can be an ace or a con, but not a pro. Bod, bio, ern, ave, mot and eek will be refused. Sic, tun, roc, pus, dun and bur will all eke by. Maybe you think this is a gyp. The game won't hear that either.

I told you I played this a lot.

All of this covers the highly recommended web-based version of the game. But if you followed the link, you'll notice that for just 19.99 (!!!) you could be the proud downloader of Super Text Twist. Let's analyze what this entails.

1) Track your personal high scores! For the experienced player that reads that line and thinks score, cores, core, sores, sore, ores, ore, rocs, roc... this is by far the most appealing feature the game offers. It will remember how well you did.

2) Link to online definitions! If it's just too much work going to and typing in a three little word, the game will look it up online for you, even though half the appeal of this version is that you don't need an Internet connection to play. To beat a dead horse, we've already covered that Text Twist's dictionary is somewhat limited, so this really isn't the ideal word builder, and worse, the lookup icons only appears next to words you guessed correctly. Normally one would already know the meaning of these.

3) Find up to 7-letter words! This feature could appeal to some, but I've been playing the six-letter version of Text Twist for so long throwing an additional letter into the fray just feels unnatural. Plus, whereas it was possible to guess all the words contained within a six letter word in under two minutes, the list of acceptable answers for some seven-letter words can be over fifty items long. Honestly, this option mostly increases the amount of lexemes you'll have to guess; it's not much fun going over twenty different three-letter words and making sure you've also guessed the plural form of each.

4) Over 50% more words than the web version! Only nearly all of this increase is devoted to seven-letter words. If you wish to stick with the six-letter game (you can choose between six, seven, or a combination of both), you'll be seeing the same exact vocabulary list you would in the online version.

And all that for just 19.99!!!

Text Twist is a really fun time waster. I may be lengthening the time it takes to find a cure for cancer just by linking to it, only I highly doubt HG is a popular site amongst the medical profession. And, to be honest, these additions may even be worth a small amount of money to some; a couple of dollars to see my five best outings would be well worth the money. But as it stands this offering is corporate exploitation on Yahoo's part comparable to calling the elderly and posturing you're with the bank. This is shameful overcharging, the bottling and sale of plain tap water. There is nothing super about Super Text Twist. Put simply, this product is a gyp.

Even if the game doesn't recognize it.


drella's avatar
Staff review by Jackie Curtis (November 28, 2008)

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