What would you call a word search game that is not just a puzzle, but a deeply engaging, and often laugh-provoking contest for 2-4 players? How about if it were not played with paper and pencil at all, but on a board – a very cleverly designed board that reveals the words you are searching for one at a time, and the first person who can find that word must be the first to squeeze a very silly noise maker, and only then can use her own contact-lens-like plastic chips to cover each letter in that word, every letter being connected in a straight line exactly as you would expect in a word search puzzle? And, to top it all off, what if, when the line in which that word was found crosses a word that another player had already created, that player’s chips were removed from the board, and, should that result in another word that is already claimed to suddenly become incomplete, those chips as well were to be removed? So that you can never really tell who is winning, even though you might be 40 chips ahead of everyone else, until the very end of the game?
You’d call it two things. You’d call it Wordquest, because that’s the name of the game. And the other thing you’d call it would be Major FUN, because it’s exactly the kind of game the Major FUN award was designed for.
Like almost every game published by Goliath, every aspect of the game is designed for ease of use and long-lasting fun. Each of the 20, differently-themed word search puzzles is printed on a large, laminated disc. The disc is mounted on a round base. A transparent grid provides concave receptacles for the transparent, concave, playing chips. Because the chips and the receptacles are both concave, it is extremely easy to use a finger tip to place and remove them during play. A mounting ring fits on top of the grid and covers all the target words. Rotating the ring reveals each word to be found. Zip-lock baggies are provided for the chips, and four pits surround the playing area so that the chips are easily accessible during play. At the end of the game, everything fits back in the box with ease.
Being able to remove words that the opponents have already scored is probably one of the most compelling of all the clever mechanics that have gone into making Wordquest as fun as it is. Though there is no strategy involved in playing the game, when you successfully cross words with another player you get the same sense of smug superiority as you would if your victory were actually justified.
And then there’s that squeaky, exclamation-mark-like thing that you use to announce that you’ve been the first to find a word. It makes such a perfectly silly sound that it’s almost hard to take it seriously, even if you’re the one who didn’t find the word.
Younger children who are old enough to successfully solve word search puzzles might have difficulty with the small chips and the competitive aspect of the game. We’d recommend it to families with kids who are old enough to appreciate both. And, of course, to anyone who likes the visual and conceptual challenge of word search puzzles. Even if you don’t like word search puzzles.