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Review: Chess with Friends and Words with Friends

Review: Chess with Friends—Free ad-supported Chess With Friends
Words with Friends Free—Free ad-supported Words With Friends Free
Words with Friends—$0.99 ad-free Words With Friends
Chess with Friends Released: February 27, 2009
Words with Friends Released: July 6, 2009
Developer/Distributor: Newtoy, Inc.
Genre: Games
Chess with Friends version 2.0.2 and Words with Friends version 1.0 tested on a 16GB iPhone 3GS

I am thoroughly addicted to two games on the iPhone right now, both of which are made by the same developers and allow you to play at your own pace against real people, choosing either to receive email notifications or SMS messages when it is your turn: Chess with Friends and Words with Friends.

Chess with Friends

Chess with Friends is free and ad-supported with advertisements at the top of the playing screen (see the pic accompanying this post and the full gallery below). You can play over WiFi, 3G, or EDGE either against specific friends who also have the application, against a random opponent, or via a “Pass and Play” feature for playing with friends in meatspace. The best thing about the application is that it has built-in notifications, which you can set up either via email or SMS, so you don’t have to have the time to sit down and play for a while. You simply play when you have the time.

Also, there’s a built-in chat client so that you can converse with your opponent and little eyeballs appear at the top right corner of the board if your opponent is online and looking at the game at the same time you are, which is a nice touch.

I’m regularly playing at least 4 chess games at a time now and it’s great. The ads are non-intrusive and the gameplay itself is nice. Chess with Friends also has very useful back and forward controls to review previous moves while playing (so you can remember why you moved where) and to study your games after they are over. There’s only two things I’d really like to see added to the game that would make it perfect in my book:

  1. the ability to email yourself the list of moves after a game is over in standard chess notation format.
  2. Push notifications as an option instead of SMS or email.

If you like chess, get this free game and feel free to challenge me to a game. My username is cksample.

Review Rating: YAY! YAY! YAY!

Words with Friends

Words with Friends gives you a Scrabble or Scrabulous-type word game and I’ve found it to be quicker to launch, quicker to play, and altogether better than the much more expensive Official Scrabble for iPhone game from EA ($4.99; direct iTunes link). Admittedly, Words with Friends isn’t Scrabble. The bonus tiles are in different locations (see the picture gallery below) and it isn’t working from the Scrabble dictionary (which actually means there is less room for using crap words like QI or ZA). Also, it lacks any non-iPhone interface for play (Scrabble works on Facebook and you can play people via Facebook connect from your iPhone or from within Facebook).

However, Words with Friends is free with ads or $0.99 for a non-ads version that gives you ad-free play for a full year. The email notifications are also better than the Facebook notifications to tell you it’s your turn to move and it has the same chat features and eyeball opponent awareness that Chess with Friends has. I highly recommend trying out the game and then switching to the pay version if you like it. The ads on Words with Friends, unlike on Chess with Friends, are a bit on the intrusive side, requiring you to dismiss a full-screen advertisement every time you complete a move.

The only thing I want to see in an update for this game is push notifications as an option.

Review Rating: YAY!

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