Letterpress for iOS: A Game of Wits and Patience

Letterpress [iTunes] is a new game for iOS that’s full of beauty and brains. Made by Loren Brichter, creator of the stunning former Twitter client Tweetie – now the official Twitter app for iOS – Letterpress is simplistic in design, but challenging and fun to play. There’s only one small problem.

The Good

If Scrabble and Words with Friends had a threesome with Tweetie, Letterpress might be their love child. First off, you’re going to need to sign-in to Game Center to play this game. Annoying, but it’s necessary to play.

You’re immediately greeted with a clean white background lined with two monochrome icons that become dotted with the colors red or blue once you’ve started a game. Letterpress isn’t just about creating words from a 5×5 board of lettered tiles. Your objective is to cover this board with your color, red or blue, using your words.  And no, you don’t get to pick your color. 

The Great

The rules are simple; use more than two letters when making a word and words can only be played once (prefix of previous words played don’t count).

The longer your words are, the more tiles you cover with your color. Additionally, you can steal your opponents tiles simply by using them in a word of your own, as long as they aren’t surrounded by the same color. Protecting tiles requires you to surround them with tiles of the same color. Those tiles are still usable, but they won’t change colors when used.

When every tile on the board has a color, the game ends. The person with the most tiles wins.

If there’s a word that Letterpress does recognize you can submit it to Lettermiss, a crowdsourced website of words people want to see added to Letterpress.  It’s not affiliated with Loren Brichter, but he is aware of it and hopefully watching it.


The Bad and Ugly

It’s highly likely that you’ll resign before you get the chance to win with Letterpress. If a game stalls, which happens often, the only way to finish is to wait it out or resign – even if you’re winning. There’s no time limit, no way to nudge your opponent to make a move, or an option to take their turn when they’re taking too long.

These conditions actually make Letterpress the perfect game to, well, game. If you wanted to be an asshole, you could start a new game and never participate. Eventually, some poor soul will resign and put you both out of your misery.  You can start another game, but the free version of Letterpress only allows two games at a time. For 99¢ you can upgrade to the full version to start more games (not unlimited), see played words and unlock a handful of neat color schemes.

Play with Friends, or Pay for Consistency

Letterpress [iTunes] is worth downloading, but you’ll enjoy it more if you have friends to play against (I don’t) or if you upgrade (I didn’t). Strangers have little consideration for your time and will play at their own pace. Friends will provide a more consistent experience and give you something to brag about when you win.

Still, if you were looking for another fun game to add to your time-wasting toolkit, Letterpress is the opposite. You’ll waste more time waiting to play your turn than standing in line at Starbucks – unless you can get your friends to join in on the fun. It’s worth the effort because this really is a great game once you get one going.

Need more apps? Check out additional reviews at Virgin Mobile Live!

Corvida Raven

A natural pioneer at grasping the rapidly changing landscape of technology, Corvida Raven talks tech in plain English on SheGeeks.net.