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I'm a word person. You know that, you read my words every week. I enjoy Spectrum HoloByte's Wordtris ($30 mail order) more than Tetris because my brain matches patterns of letters words faster than patterns of shapes.

In principle, Wordtris plays like Tetris - move falling blocks into position so certain patterns form, at which point the pattern dissolves. In Wordtris, though, the patterns are words, and the longer and more complex your words, the more points you get. The letters fall one at a time as though onto the surface of water, and push down until they reach the bottom. Then they pile up toward the top of the screen, presaging the game's end. You can form words horizontally or vertically, and as you move up levels the letters fall all the faster. Each level has a magic word, which scores a bunch of points and clears the unused letters from the screen.

The concept is simple enough, but Spectrum HoloByte threw in a few quirks, such as the scoring. Any monkey can make short words, so you get more points for long words, and you can optionally have the game not give you points for duplicated words (so you can't get points for "the" more than once). You also occasionally get an eraser, which is handy for eliminating extra Q's and Z's that you may have lying around.

What makes Wordtris, though, is its multiplayer abilities. Playing against a computer is OK, but it's more fun to play a person. Wordtris offers several different games, including one where you both try to work on the same screen, although that gets crowded. Network play is even more fun because when you create a word over a certain size immovable rocks appear at the bottom of your opponent's screen, pushing up letters and making life difficult. If you create your magic word (which is always relatively long), you clear your screen and your opponent gets a lot of rocks. Interestingly, the player who runs out of room at the top does not necessarily lose, because network play uses the same scoring system as regular play, so you can cause your opponent to run out of room and still lose on the point scale. Highly recommended.

Spectrum HoloByte -- sphere@aol.com -- 76004.2144@compuserve.com


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