Developer: Portable Zoo
Price: free Download on the App Store
As soon as you start playing Letter Bug, you will find that it is a unique word-forming game, with multiple layers and levels. However, because Letter Bug is more complex than other word games, it can also be slightly confusing.
Letter Bug from Portable Zoo is similar to yet different from word games like Word Warp and Chicktionary. To play Letter Bug, you form as many words as you can from the letters on the screen, but as you form the words, the letters you use disappear to reveal new layers of letters. Colored letters provide extra points and/or buy extra time or new letters.
Letter Bug has six different “worlds,” or themes, with three levels each and multiple rounds in each level. One of the most interesting aspects of Letter Bug is that you get extra points for words that match the theme. For example, if you are in the Storm world, you get 50 bonus points for forming the word “rain."
The levels, themes and rounds of Letter Bug create the opportunity for some confusion. What round am I on? Why did the level end? How exactly do I unlock the next level? Letter Bug's scoring feels so complicated sometimes that I cannot keep track of how I am getting points or bonuses.
Sometimes Letter Bug is quirky, like when you spell a word in the last ten seconds and do not get credit for the word or for the extra time you earned by using a green letter in the word. In Playthrough Mode, when you run out of time, the game is over unless you reach the target points. You can also play one world at a time in Score Attack or Challenge Mode, but only in the worlds you have previously unlocked.
Letter Bug is one of the most liberal games that I have played when it comes to identifying real words. Some of the acceptable words that I typed into Letter Bug included las, wem, cig, es and Ann (but not Jan).
Fortunately, Letter Bug is enjoyable enough to play that you can overlook the brain-boggling scoring and occasional non-existent words. Despite its shortcomings, Letter Bug is another addictive word game for the iPhone.