Help! The Huevos Rancheros gang have stolen gold and are camped out in the buildings of Mystery Word Town. Your child gets to assist a ghostly sheriff by conducting a room to room search of each of the buildings – until the gold is recovered and the criminals are captured. Six-shooters are not required, but a willingness to spell comes in handy. That’s because as players move from room to room, they collect letters and insert them into incomplete words. When a word is completed, a new room becomes accessible for them to explore. There’s gold in each building, and when a player finds all of the gold in the building, a criminal is captured: another one down for the Huevos Rancheros gang.
As the adult purchasing the game, here’s the first thing you should know: the building interiors are beautifully rendered. Peeking over your child’s shoulder should be an enjoyable experience. There are 12 buildings to search, the post office, the bank, the general store and more. The game uses a simple and repeatable formula to keep things moving: a player enters a building and moves from room to room. There are letters in every room. Tapping on the letters saves them to a special cowboy belt at the bottom of the screen. Then, when a door, window or other transition must be accessed, an incomplete word appears. Children must fill in the blanks by selecting the correct letters from the belt below. If the word is completed correctly, access is granted and a new room may be explored.
Some of the rooms have gold in them. When your child gathers all of the gold in the building, a congratulatory message appears on the screen, announcing the capture of yet another crook.
With every capture, a “captured” poster featuring a member of the gang appears on “Town News”, a wooden fence in the town. The crooks aren’t the only folks in town. There are talking portraits who stand in for the inhabitants. Tap on them to enjoy their opinionated and sometimes cranky insights of life in the town.
Some noteworthy features include:
- Multiple profile creation: Create a separate profile for each player. Children can create an avatar to support their profile by choosing from an entertaining selection of facial features. They may even use a slider to pick skin colour, and the options run from the standard tones to unorthodox ones like purple. This is a nod to pure fun.
- Three skill levels: There are 3 skill levels to pick from. You can review the word list associated with each of the levels to see which one is the right fit for your child.
- Audio hint mode: Children have the option of having the incomplete word read to them, making it easier for them to insert the right letters.
Mystery Word Town is clearly a sequel to the successful math app, Mystery Math Town, also by ArtGig Apps. The key difference being that Mystery Word Town focuses on words, while the latter focuses on math. This app succeeds for the same reason Mystery Math Town does: the context is impeccably crafted, right down to the music. Humour and fun is balanced against the mission of building words. Mystery Word Town is for children between the ages of 6 to 8, but don’t be surprised if its campy humour draws you in.
- Developer: Artgig Apps
- Price: $2.99
- Age: 6-8
- Device: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Andriod
Disclosure: I got the app for free, but the opinions are my own.