Words with Friends’ popularity peak seems like it was a millennium ago. But one thing was proven when it was at the top: gamers — both casual and habitual — love word games. They also love another time-tested favorite that features falling pieces and goes by the name of Tetris.
Combine elements of the two and it adds up to Letris & Friends, the three-in-one word game app that features competitive finds, disappearing blocks and snaking searches that you can engage in with your buddies.
Aiming to be the last word on letter-focused puzzle apps, find out what fun awaits you within Letris & Friends after the break.
Training for Alphabet Combat
Letris & Friends is composed of three separate games.
- Snake: Create words in all directions by dragging your finger from one letter to the next, but note you can’t remove it from the screen before completing the word. This game is also timed.
- Letris: Letters fall slowly, but progressively speed up. Tap any of them to spell out words before your stack reaches the top.
- WordMatrix: Presented with a screen full of letters, players create words to try and make all of the blocks disappear.
In Snake, lifting your finger off the screen automatically enters a word into the game. If approved, Letris & Friends will tally up your word score.
For Letris and WordMatrix, there will be a bar beneath the box containing the letters. This should have the word spelled out based on the letters you have tapped and it should be colored green. Touch it to enter the word and get your points tallied. If the box is red, it means that your word is not accepted or is incomplete. Touch it when it’s red to clear the letters and start entering a new word. Also note that proper names will not be accepted.
Upon getting started with the app, you’ll be given a limited number of practice rounds for each game. At this point, the “& Friends” portion of Letris & Friends won’t have kicked in. All of your practice rounds are solo outings so that you can get the hang of how to play each one.
Now, two things may inhibit you from challenging an opponent. The first: You may feel a little anti-social and that’s fine. The second: You don’t have access to Wi-Fi. Solve both of these by making an in-app purchase that gives you unlimited training. This way you can play all the Snake, Letris or WordMatrix games you want without a partner.
Becoming a Word Warrior
It doesn’t take long to get comfortable with Letris & Friends’ various game plays. Once you’ve cleared a few boards, you’ll be ready to take on friends or strangers.
Touch the New Game button and select which of the three you’d like to play. If you haven’t done it already, choose one out of the seven languages available to make sure you’re up against a compatible opponent.
Below, there will be a Play With tab, featuring the option of Random Opponent and Known User. Selecting Known User will allow you to find a player by searching for their user name. You can also send a request out via Twitter to see who takes the challenge.
Random Opponents are found for you from the other Letris & Friends players who are online, in your language category and looking to play the game you have chosen. As matches progress, though, players can switch games or ignore requests from others to enter bouts.
From here, you and your adversary will take turns playing various games. You won’t be able to see them playing live. Instead, you’ll have to wait until they finish up and their score is revealed.
This doesn’t mean you need to stick around, though. Letris & Friends lets you come back to the game when you are mentally ready to tackle the task at hand. The app will notify you when it’s your turn and will keep the ball in your court, unless a tournament gets dropped due to inactivity.
Be aware that it takes a token to play each round, but a new token is given after 15 minutes of play, so do your best to prolong your performance. Not playing the game for a significant period of time will refill token levels and you can buy unlimited play in the app’s shop.
Weapons of Word-fare
No game is complete until it has some tricks and cheats to help out players. Letris & Friends offers up five nifty tools that can help you progress further in your matches. Icons for these line the top of the screen on your iOS device and will vary depending on the game.
The first tool is Fire. Tapping this button during a bout will burn up the bottom row of letters in Letris. Conversely, Ice will freeze the screen and prevent new letters from falling for a set amount of time. This tool also appears in the Snake game. The Time button will slow the fall of letters in Letris, while Hint will show you a word suggestion in WordMatrix.
Judges is a trick limited to WordMatrix. Once you’ve highlighted a word you want to submit for scoring, tapping the Judges icon will let you know how well your word scores in case you want to replace it with something that has a few more syllables and that will earn you more points.
An “A” for Effort?
Letris & Friends is a beautiful app, and the letters are crisp, clear and easy to read. The visuals are enough to add color, but not enough to distract you from enjoying the game.
Game play is simple and the app seems to respond well to distractions, such as pausing the game when a text message notification comes across the screen. The app only froze up one time during testing for this review, but beyond that, responded as it should have whenever some sort of transition took place.
One hang-up for some players may be the tokens. Players are given a certain amount, but since it takes one token to play a round, users could be cut off before they’ve had their fill of competitive matches. Purchases can be made to get more tokens, though some players may use this ration as a sign that they should take a break.
But you will want to keep playing Letris & Friends. The game lives up to reviews that claim it is addictive and the competitive aspect adds a layer of engagement (especially if you chat with your opponent) that some other word games fail to deliver.