Philip, my three-year-old son, is obsessed with letters. He loves to play with apps, watch TV shows and YouTube clips, and collect everything that involve letters. Even though he has been exposed to the letters of the alphabet since he was much younger, it seems like he can't get enough of it.
Fortunately, I found a great letter-themed iPhone game that I believe he would be thrilled to play. Entitled Alphabuild, it was designed and developed by a team of four with a love for letters. With plenty of experience building fonts for other people's games in their arsenal, this creative team finally decided to create their own game--one that celebrates letter building.
Let's Build Letters!
Alphabuild is an iPhone game that asks you to build letters from colorful pieces, called letrons, that are transported on a conveyor belt from the right-hand side to the left-hand side of the screen. As you form each letter, you can also try to collect goodies while avoiding the baddies.
The gameplay is simple and straightforward. When a correct letron passes through, tap on the screen to add the letron to your letter. When you have collected all the letrons required, a new one letter block will show up.
You can choose to play the letters from A to Z sequentially or randomly, and even set the difficulty level to suit your junior's skills. The first level allows you to play the game slowly and without any obstacles, but the two subsequent levels increase the game speed and throw in additional challenges.
Here are some examples of the things that would obstruct you in your efforts:
* Bubble. A bubble would encapsulate a letron and prevent you from adding it to your letter block. You need to tap to burst the bubble before capturing the lettron.
* Glue. When a glue appears on the conveyor belt, you must tap it before it reaches your letter block. Otherwise, it would spill all over your letter block and prevent you from adding any letrons. You can then either wait a while or smear your letter block multiple times to remove the sticky mess.
* Nix. If you're unable to tap it before it reaches your letter block, the Nix will steal a letron that you've collected.
* Ice Cube. An ice cube will freeze your letter block. You can either wait for the ice to melt or tap the frozen letter block to speed up the process.
* Saw Blade. A saw blade will chop your letter block, forcing you to build a new one from scratch.
In addition to challenges, Alphabuild also has a few goodies to aid us. For instance, there is an Omni that can turn itself into any lectron you need, a Shield that blocks the negative effects of baddies for a limited time, and a Magnet that will attract all usable letrons on the conveyor belt.
I hope my explanation can help you gain a bit of insight of how the game plays. I really feel that the app is very intuitive and the challenges are quite balanced. If you want to learn more about the app, here's a video:
Gamers Need to Know
As you would expect from a game, Alphabuild has a few game stats, a high score system, an ability to pause and resume the game, and more ways to keep you challenged. The bottom-third of the screen in the game is designed to show you two viewports. The first one shows the pause/play lever, the running timer, the total stars (points) that you have collected, a four-level bar showing the color of your next star, a message box for hints and warnings, and three placeholders for magnets, gems and gold star boosts. As soon as you have completed a letter, the app will show you a second view indicating the letters that you have completed along with your performance in each one.
Even though the game doesn't force you to get the highest possible score each time you play the game, it does offer many ways in which you can measure and improve your score. One metric is the color of the stars that you collect each time you complete a letter. If you manage to collect only the correct letrons for your letter, you would get a gold star. On the other hand, if you captured any incorrect letrons, you would get a star in a different color. In the most difficult level, it is a bit challenging to get gold stars for all the letters in a single play.
Fortunately, the game has several goodies and methods to help you finish in the best possible conditions. You can try to collect the green gems which would help you redo a letter from scratch should you make a mistake in the building process. The gold star boost can help you gain the golden star award for that letter even though you've made many mistakes along the way. Finally, you can also play the remedial round, which features all the letters that you haven't struck gold at, as many times as you need.
Parents Need to Know
Although it may seem like a child's play, Alphabuild is actually a game that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The first level is quite simple for a 3-year-old, but the third level brings up quite a challenge even for a seasoned gamer. The app also has a feature where you can tilt the phone to control the game speed. If you let your juniors play with the game, you may want to turn this setting off.
As a bonus, you can access a fun soundboard activity page where you can tap the letters from A to Z to hear how the letter would be pronounced by one of the narrators. You can choose between a young girl's voice and a robot's voice.
Things I Like
One of the options that you can tweak in this game is its background screen. The game is shipped with 10 colorful options, including a cosmic scenery, a wall full of scribbles, and a bookshelf background. This attention to details makes the game a joy to play with.
Alphabuild also offers ways to satisfy your inner-geek instinct to achieve the highest score possible. In addition to the ways I describe earlier, you can also try playing as close as possible to the right-hand side of the screen where the letrons come in. It's definitely harder, especially if you're playing the third level, but if you really want to score big, that's what you need to do.
Alphabuild is an excellent, intuitive and fun game to play with. People of all ages can enjoy this game--it is the perfect iPhone game for the entire family. I'd definitely keep this game on my iPhone, where I can easily access it and hand it over to my juniors anywhere we go. A perfect time-filler game!
Get Alphabuild on the App Store.