You know what’s fun? Games. I like them, and chances are good that you do too. Hopefully we both like them for the Kindle, since that would have some direct bearing on the topic under discussion. Specifically, the Kindle game Panda Poet from Spry Fox. I admittedly had not heard about it until today, but since it has only been around since Nov 8th, I’m not too worried about conveying potentially outdated Kindle news. Besides, Spry Fox has a record for quality so far. If you’ve been watching us, you may actually remember a recent look at Triple Town for the Kindle. Even after a month of playing around with that one, I’m still recommending it to friends.
Anyway, on to specifics. As is usually the case when it comes to Kindle games(and as might be implied by the latter part of the title), Panda Poet is a word game. Your goal is to achieve the highest possible score. How do you pull this off? Pandas. Yes, I know that doesn’t make much sense yet.
On the game board, you are presented with a number of letters. You have to make words out of them, preferably long ones, to score points. As you make these words, the letters used are absorbed by pandas that find their way onto the board. Each turn, assuming the word you create is in a position to form an adjoining rectangle to the existing rectangular panda or pandas, your panda will grow. If it is not positioned quite well enough, another panda will grow! Yes, I know I’m saying panda a lot.
To complicate matters, each letter on the game board is only active for a limited number of turns. The longer you take to use a letter, the less it is worth. However, if you do not use a letter by the time it expires, a skull will appear in its place that prevents panda growth. Given that the game is called Panda Poet, you can readily imply that impeded panda growth is to be seen as a bad thing.
Scoring is somewhat complicated and often comically inflated, especially as you achieve particularly long words. Basically, you can take the total score of your word based on the value of letters used(we’ll say 17), then multiply it by the number of letters used(maybe 8?) four times. Each word, given no other addition to the scoring, is therefore worth no small number of points(say, 17*8*8*8*8=69,632 points!). High scores are tracked for you based on the best scoring word you managed to come up with in that game, and chances are you’ll be seeing a lot of cycling of your scoreboard. It’s always rather amusing to see what new word you can jam into the ranks.
There is a lot of polish on this game, in my opinion, and it’s really easy to lose track of time while playing. On top of that, it’s one of those fun concepts that can appeal to pretty much any age group. There’s no real penalty for low scores or competition with computers of other players(definitely a solitaire type of experience), so even kids are likely to get into it. The Panda gimmick won’t hurt that, of course. Heck, the pandas are part of what makes the game so hilarious to sit there playing. No, it doesn’t go any further with the panda theme than drawing oddly stretched rectangular pandas all over the place, but I’m sure that’s enough for anybody.
Besides my own opinion, which could be tainted by a combined love of both word games and hilariously contorted pandas, there are already some reviews popping up on the sales page. So far(at the time I’m writing this), not a one below Five Stars, actually. Yeah, I know, two reviews isn’t a lot, but give the Spry Fox team credit for hitting two for two so far.
M. Briscoe “Meise” said:
Great game! You create words from the letters available and then the letters you used become pandas of all shapes and sizes. It is a challenge to come up with longer words and to use all the letters before they expire, but my 8 yr old niece loves this game too since there is no word length restriction. It is fun to play a word game that we both can enjoy, plus she giggles whenever a new panda comes up and squeals “it’s soooo cute!” (and I have to admit – so do I :) )
And Ellen Bridges said:
Panda Poet is an interesting and fun word game, although the Pandas are really meaningless. They could be replaced by rectangles, which is what they really are, but somehow seeing Pandas that are very slim or extremely wide is kind of comical.
[…]This is a very good word game, although the whole “Panda” thing is weird. It’s definitely worth the 2.99 price.
That basically sums it up. There aren’t many other animals you can really capture well enough to build a game around them on a monochrome screen unless you wanted to go with zebras or penguins, and we may well see them at some point. I like the pandas. Kindle gaming is still going well(Now with more Panda!), Kindle game development just keeps getting better, and you can’t complain at all about the price of these fun little Kindle apps at just $2.99. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.