Hanging with Friends Puts a New Spin on Hangman
A review of the iTunes game, Hanging with Friends, from the makers of Words with Friends.
Words with Friends was one of the biggest hits on iTunes in the past year, and now Zynga has followed its success with a new variation on the classic word game of hangman with Hanging with Friends for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. This is better suited to the casual word gamer who may have found the overly competitive nature of some Words with Friends gamers too tough. It works more like a word scramble game than a knock off of Scrabble, but uses all the same online features as its predecessor. You should definitely check this one out and be sure to get your friends signed up, too.
Based on what games turn out to be bestsellers on iTunes, it seems that the key factor is simplicity. Many iPhone gamers, like those that want to play games for a few minutes on their phone, don't want games with learning curves. They want something that anybody can jump into and start playing. It's why Angry Birds with its simple 'slide and release' game mechanics has made its developers filthy rich. Words with Friends was such a hit for two main reasons - it was easy to play and you could play against your friends, as the name implies.
This app lets you play hangman style games against your friends. You can link up to your Facebook account to find other players, enter their user name if you know it, or even find strangers to play online. Adding that human factor is always better than playing against some kind of computer AI. This game has little to no learning curve, and about the only requirement is for you to know how to spell.
The game begins with one player using a random selection of letters to form a word, then the turn goes to the other player. It is the opponent's job to figure out what that word may be. After they guess, they can make a word of their own, and then it goes back and forth. The first person to miss five words is the loser.
What's cool about this game is that it doesn't leave players at the mercy of random letter tile draws like you would sometimes experience on Words with Friends. If you've ever been stuck with all vowels, you know what that means. This game uses the same word bank, so the same weird words you would occasionally run into are still going to show up here. Ultimately, this encourages players to come up with more difficult words using their available letters because if you take the easy route, it'll just make your word easier to guess.
With its turn-based gameplay, you can have up to twenty games going at once where each player has as much time as they need to make a move. After your opponent submits their word, you will get a notification on your phone and then you take a turn. This is casual gaming at its finest.
Don't worry about the morbid images of some hapless bad speller with a noose around their neck. In this game, your character hangs by a bundle of colorful balloons. That's plenty more family friendly that an implied execution, though gravity would mean certain death for the game's loser, but don't tell your kids that.
The colorful graphics in this game feature several cartoon characters meant to represent the players, and they dangle from balloons over harmless backgrounds. As play progresses, balloons may pop and cause the character to float down a bit. What's funny is how the losing player's face will change from smiles to frowns as you keep beating them.
This game has way more graphic enhancement to it when compared to Words with Friends, and that added touch of color and animation really makes it more pleasing. The focus, however, still remains on putting letters together to make words.
Hanging with Friends is a fun game and best suited for people who like word games, but may have found Words with Friends a little too difficult. This game employs much more colorful animations and is somewhat easier, but still a lot of fun. Best of all, it keeps your account name from Words with Friends so you can jump in and play without any additional setup.
The full app currently sells for $1.99, but there is a free version that plays exactly the same and makes you view ads in between moves. I suggest you try the free one first, then if you get involved enough, you may want to pay the small fee to do away with the ad support.
Hanging with Friends Tips and Tricks
This game is only as difficult as the vocabulary of your opponent, unless they cheat with a word bank. Here are a few strategies you can employ to help give you a competitive edge.
- Take your time with each move. There is no clock counting down in this game. Don't post the first simple word that pops in your head because a more complicated, and therefore more difficult to guess, word may be in there.
- Use creative spellings for words that allow it. Sometimes you can stick an extra vowel in there to throw off your opponent.
- Long words are more difficult to guess. This should be a given. The longer the word you make, the tougher it will be for your opponent to figure out.
- Experiment with words. Have you ever strung together a series of letters and submitted them just to see if they make a real word or not? Sometimes it pays off.
- If you really want to play dirty, use www.HangingWithFriendsCheat.org to let it pick words for you. Don't be surprised if people stop playing with you after a while, though.