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    Game » consists of 1 releases. Released 1991

    Seen as a spin-off of the falling-block game Tetris, Wordtris tests the player's English vocabulary and reaction speed as they form words using falling tiles.

    Short summary describing this game.

    Wordtris last edited by Nes on 05/02/24 12:16PM View full history


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    Wordtris is a falling-block puzzle game developed by Sphere, Inc. (along with Armenica) and published by Spectrum HoloByte for DOS PCs in 1991.

    Often seen as a spin-off of the Tetris series of puzzle games, Wordtris tasks players with manipulating falling tiles (each representing a letter of the alphabet) in order to form words from the English dictionary. It is known for its "Well" mechanic, by which the bottom half of the board is "Water" that tiles float on (with tiles above them pushing them "underwater").

    Despite the game not having any involvement from Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov, the game is often advertised as part of the Tetris family (sometimes known as the "Tris" series). It was sold alongside Super Tetris and Tetris Classic, contains Spectrum HoloByte's use of Soviet imagery (including an incorrect usage of Cyrillic letters), and was included in the 1993 compilation Tetris Gold. The game's original design is known for being co-created by Armen Sarkissian, who afterwards became Armenia's fifth Prime Minister, then later becoming Armenia's fourth President.

    It later received ports to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy, both by Realtime Associates, on November 1992, with a Macintosh version released on November 1993. The SNES version features a new theme utilizing pictures of the Moscow Circus (which were also used in Super Tetris).


    The game tasks players with dropping single letter tiles onto a 9×10 playfield (known as the "Well", with the bottom five rows as the "Water") in order to form common English words of three-or-more letters (with higher difficulties requring four-or-more), top-down or left-right, and remove the word from the board (granting points based on its complexity and the game's difficulty).

    Tiles cannot be dropped below the water line, landing either on the surface (at the fifth row) or on top of any other tile above it. If there is room underwater, landing on another tile pushes the stack downward once. The game ends once a player cannot have their tile enter the board (fifth column in single-player, third column for player one, and seventh column for player two).

    Special Pieces

    There are two types of special pieces that grant different effects when it lands:

    Blank Blocks

    Known in some versions as the "Wild Card Tile", these letter tiles can be changed into any letter of the player's choosing (or to a random letter if it lands without being changed). If the letter is changed manually, it's worth zero points.

    In the PC and Macintosh versions, it is changed by typing the key on the keyboard before the tile lands. It can be changed into an Erase Block instead by pressing the Backspace key. Because it uses the keyboard alphabet, this block is disabled in same-seat multiplayer modes.

    In the SNES and Game Boy versions, players instead cycle through letters using the A and B buttons.

    Erase Blocks

    At random intervals, players receive a special tile drop that's represented as either an Eraser (PC/Mac) or Cherry Bomb (SNES/GB). Landing this on another tile removes both tiles, while landing this on the water removes it harmlessly.

    In the SNES and Game Boy versions, two additional types of Erase Blocks can be found: Acid Beaker and Dynamite Stick. The Acid Beaker, found after creating a 6+ letter word, removes all tiles in the column it lands on. The Dynamite Stick, found only in later levels, removes all tiles surrounding the tile it lands on.

    Scoring and Magic Words

    When forming a word, the player receives points for each tile's score, multiplied by the word's size, the current level, and other score modifiers. Repeat use of the same word grants no score. Similar to the board game Scrabble, each letter is worth a certain amount of points based on how common they are used:

    • 1 pt. - A, E, I, L, N, O, R, S, T, U
    • 2 pts. - D, G
    • 3 pts. - C, P
    • 4 pts. - B, F, H, K, M, W, Y
    • 5 pts. - V
    • 8 pts. - J, X
    • 10 pts. - Q, Z

    In addition, the game features a random "Magic Word" that are displayed above the Next Tile display. Managing to form this word grants a significant amount of bonud points while clearing the well of all tiles (giving points for each tile removed from the well).

    Completing a level also grants bonus points based on the amount of higher-letter words used.

    Difficulty & Options

    There are four difficulty settings, each limiting the types of words that can be formed while giving additional rewards.

    • Children's - Same as Novice, but with slower tile drops.
    • Novice - 3+ letter words only. 5+ letters for Magic Words. Standard scoring.
    • Advanced - 3+ letter words on earlier levels, 4+ letter words on later levels.6+ letters for Magic Words. Double scoring.
    • Expert - 4+ letter words only. 7+ letters for Magic Words. Triple scoring.

    In addition, players can disable the Next Tile display (for +25% bonus score) and can disallow words from being counted if the word has been removed before (for +100% bonus score).

    The PC and Macintosh versions also allow players to add words into its dictionary.


    Along with traditional single-player, the game includes two-player multiplayer in both competitive and co-operative settings. In Competitive and Cooperative modes, both players share the same playfield, with Cooperative mode also having both players share the same score. In the Tournament mode, up to four players take turns in single-player games and compete for score. The Head-to-Head mode in the PC and Macintosh version is a variation of Competitive mode used for LAN and modem-based play.

    As both players share the playfield in Competitive mode, the player with the fewest amount of tiles in the well at the end of the match receives points based on the opposing player's tiles. It is done to prevent players from ending the game prematurely on an early lead.


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