Developer Zynga Publisher Zynga
Release Date February 28, 2013 (iOS, Android)
Zynga has a knack for creating impressively addicting games for mobile devices. Words With Friends was a hit among casual gamers across the world, going so far as to even capture the attention of the over-50 crowd. Their newest entry in their line-up comes in the form of a Wheel of Fortune-inspired game, What’s the Phrase? While perhaps not capturing the same comfortable feeling of familiarity that Words With Friends did with its Scrabble-esque gameplay, What’s the Phrase? actually feels more enjoyable and less time-consuming with its faster in-and-out gameplay.
A clean interface accompanies the game’s menus, making it easy to begin and play games with friends or random opponents. Players are given a choice of categories, ranging from TV Shows and Movies, all the way to things like Occupations. Once in the game, you are treated to a spinning wheel with values ranging from hundreds to thousands. After landing on the value, the next step becomes choosing a letter to play. You’re given three chances despite whether you get them right or wrong, offering multiple chances for spinning the wheel or buying a vowel with the in-game currency, meaning multiple chances to increase your score. If you feel you know the answer, selecting the “slide to solve” button allows you to solve the puzzle and win the round.
The aforementioned in-game currency acts as the obligatory cash shop hook. While coins are earned in-game by completing challenges and by accumulating score within rounds, Zynga knows impatience runs in the gamer family, and therefore the cash shop offers players the ability to speed up their process exponentially by purchasing new categories and powerups. Powerups function like life-lines, giving players an additional move, obtain a free consonant to help with solving, eliminate 3 incorrect letters from the keyboard, and place hidden bombs on an opponent’s letters to make them lose points. None of these drastically enhance the gameplay, but they do offer less skilled players the ability to not only move forward faster, but give them the edge when they’re feeling unsure of a phrase.
What’s the Phrase? also offers a custom game mode that does not tie into the competitive mode, allowing players submit a custom phrase and accompanying hint to another user. The recipient chooses a selection of letters before attempting to solve, and then returns the phrase to the creator. It does not allow for the recipient to send a new phrase back, however. It’s an odd decision to leave out the ability to continuously share original phrases back and forth.
A fun game worth playing, What’s the Phrase? acts as the epitome of a social mobile experience. In the same vein of fun as Words With Friends, many hours of pensiveness awaits those who enjoy the pick-up-and-play nature of this thoughtful title, and considering it’s free to play, there’s not a lot to dislike.
+ Addicting gameplay.
+ Useful powerups.
+ Solid social integration.
- Poor custom game implementation.
On the fence? This Wheel of Fortune knockoff is definitely worth adding to your mobile game collection. Exchanging real world money for virtually currency is always annoying, even if it is optional, and custom games feel like a missed opportunity, but What’s the Phrase? offers a lot of fun for free. Zynga strikes social gaming gold once again.