Merriam Webster’s Spell-Jam from Tikki games is a superb way for teenagers to brush up on their spelling, while competing plus having lots of fun. The idea surrounding this great spelling game is to set it within a game show with plenty of fun atmosphere, lively music and lots of great characters making the whole learning to spell concept take on a new dimension that youngsters will never be bored of, or find tedious in any way.
To get started you have to choose which character you would like to be from a good selection plus which mode you would like to challenge yourself with. There are three to choose from with three difficulty levels in each, Practice Mode, Competition Mode or Game Show Mode. Practice Mode lets you test your vocabulary skills, Competition Mode sees you playing against other players while Game Show Mode sees you play for cash prizes, albeit virtual cash, not the real thing. Its a lot of fun that players will find rather addictive.
Once you have your character you will stand on a plinth while the hosts of the show ask you to spell words. You then spell out by typing into your keyboard so that your character will then spell out what you are typing as you go along. You can also use the mouse to enter the letters but I found it much easier and quicker to use the keyboard. Its a matter of personal preference really. You can always play for time by asking the host to repeat a word or put it in a sentence so that you can put it into context in your mind which is useful.
Playing Practice Mode is fun but is just what is written on the pack, it is a practice session spelling words, while getting the spelling wrong does not incur a forfeit of any kind so is a nice way to introduce yourself slowly into the game. Competition Mode on the other hand brings more of a competitive edge to the game as you battle it out with up to five other participants or against the computer. Game Show Mode for me is the exciting one as you are trying to earn cash by spelling against the clock. The feeling of urgency is really apparent as you hurry to spell correctly making for quite a challenge. You also earn power ups if you succeed such as “word choice” which will show you four alternative spellings for a word while you have to select the correct one.
One thing to look out for is that Spell-Jam uses the American dictionary which is different to English in some respects. This is a little disconcerting I think, so a UK version would have been nice. Such words as colour are spelled without the U in Spell-Jam meaning if players enter the English spelling they will be judged as incorrect. That little annoyance aside Spell-Jam is a great spelling game that brings fun plus charm to the task while it is educational too. The game is too difficult for young children being more suited to twelve years upwards while teens will have plenty of fun playing Spell-Jam.