This is the one hundred eleventh entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Our next random selection from the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality is attempting to drown us with the alphabet. It’s Wordsum Blitz, by Pixelshot Games, and its tagline in the bundle reads:

Tetris with words

I admire this succinct tagline, but I can actually imagine many different ways that could work. Fortunately for you, reader, I’ve played Wordsum Blitz and will tell you how it actually works, below.

Wordsum Blitz starts with a grid of letters. Players are tasked with creating words from them, by chaining together adjacent letters, orthogonally or diagonally. Once this is done, by clicking each letter in order and then clicking the checkmark button, those letters are removed from the grid. Any letters above them “fall” down to fill in the empty space left when the word departs. Every 18 seconds, another row of letters appears at the bottom of the grid, lifting all the other letters up. If any letters reach the top of the screen, the game is over.

That’s it! There are no falling letter-based Tetris pieces like I thought there might be, but the Tetris concept of a grid of blocks which pile up unless eliminated is central. The time limit makes things tricky, though. I’ve played games with similar concepts, like Boggle, but in those cases it was all about trying to find the longest possible words. There isn’t much time for that in Wordsum Blitz, because that column on the left side is about to hit the top, so I better come up with a word using at least one of its letters now.

That meant I was usually only getting three-letter words, and I think my longest ever was five letters (and was probably just a plural). The way letters are eliminated introduces some extra strategy too. I quickly learned that chaining letters vertically could get me into trouble later, splitting the grid into two halves without enough letters to connect them and severely limiting my options. Having two tall towers of consonants does not make for a good time. I’m sure that canny players might even spy a word or two ahead, realizing that eliminating that letter would bring those other two next to each other and let them make a nice long elimination.

Wordsum Blitz is rather barebones in its construction. The sound had some weird glitches for me, often turning the relaxing background music into a distorted squelch, and literally the only option setting in the game is to turn sound on or off, which meant losing the (simple) sound effects too. Matching a word that’s longer than three letters grants bonus points, but this is announced via a large pop-up box that obscures the letter grid for a moment, even though there’s plenty of screen space available elsewhere. Backing out of a word is awkward, requiring clicking on the currently selected letters in reverse order, and at one point I managed to freeze the game by trying to hit one of the “X” buttons at the bottom, assuming they would expedite this process. That said, the concept for the game is simple enough that I’m not sure it really needs to be a polished package. It’s a quick word game, why fancy it up? And I do like the simple, muted color palette.

Wordsum Blitz didn’t hold my attention for long, but I’m not sure it’s intended to. Besides, fans of word puzzles may find more lasting enjoyment here. If some quick word-finding sounds fun to you, it might be worth taking a look. If you missed it in the bundle, Wordsum Blitz is sold for a minimum price of $2, including versions for Windows, Mac and Linux.

That’s 111 down, and only 1630 to go!