This review was written by PN contributor, Jennifer Gould.
In Words Up! Academy, you are trying to make as many words as you can out of a set of letters. There are hints on the screen to let you know how many words are left. You make your words on the GamePad. That may not sound very exciting unless you are a word game fan, but the six different modes liven things up. If you are a word game fan, you will find this game enjoyable, despite its ups and downs. We’ll take a look at those later, but first the modes.
Story mode has you pitted against those already in the academy for the right to join. Versus mode lets you practice head to head with the characters you met in story mode. Free mode is like versus mode but gives you options to choose your opponent, number of rounds, length of rounds and difficulty. In classic mode, you try to play as long as you can by earning time for each word you make. Blitz mode changes the letters you have to work with every 30 seconds. And finally, relax mode lets you attempt to find every word in a set of letters with no time constraints. Phew!
Now for the ups! I found blitz mode to be the easiest and the most fun. With the letters changing, you always have words to make without dull stops searching for a word. It keeps your mind engaged in quick moves the entire time. Free mode is the most thoughtful. Whether I have 10 minutes or an hour, I get to play my game, my way. Versus mode is a nice way to mix it up a bit. Each character has their own difficulty added from shuffling letters as you play, to changing letters to numbers, to blacking out the screen. These changeups keep the game from getting monotonous. I also found the graphics adorable and the GamePad control easy to use.
Classic mode is the most difficult because as you progress and it gets harder to find words, you are likely to run out of time. With local leaderboards you can always compete against yourself and friends. The challenge to hit number one will keep you coming back. Unfortunately there are downs though. The entire story mode is only four levels long. I was really hoping for something more substantial. While completionists may appreciate relax mode, I just found it to be long and tedious. Worst of all, the music sounds like the beat of a ticking clock played with instruments. So boring!
Words Up! Academy is a hit or miss. The disappointments were disconcerting. There are parts of this game I will never go back to. But the parts I loved, I really loved. All in all, I’ll mute the TV and play the modes I like.