Right now, iPad gaming is mainly about upscaled versions of existing iPhone games, with a few exclusives like Zen Bound 2 and Mirror’s Edge thrown in. However, over time more developers will figure out what kind of games really make use of iPad’s larger screen size and sofa-surfing usage.
The Ultimate Alphabet is one of the first. Developer Toytek describes it as a ‘visual crossword’, based on a book from the late 1980s by artist Mike Wilks. The book featured an illustration for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet, full of objects and animals whose names began with that letter. The game updates that idea for iPad.
In a sense, it’s a cross between a hidden-object casual game and a crossword. You zoom in and scroll around the image, double-tapping on things then typing in their names. Some have several – there are 362 words to find for the letter ‘A’s illustration alone. It makes beautiful use of the iPad screen.
And crosswords? There are cryptic crossword-style clues for the words, written by someone who contributes crosswords for various UK newspapers. Fear not if you tend to struggle with cryptic clues though: there are hints and even a letter-jumble to help you out. You get coins and trophies as you progress through the game, to give a sense of achievement, and it ties into the OpenFeint connected community to see how you rate against your friends.
The game is free to download, with free play on the letter ‘A’. However, you then pay for further illustrations: ‘B’ costs £4.99, ‘B’ and ‘D’ together cost £5.99, and a pack of ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ costs £7.99. It feels like a truly crafted game, and one that’s going to be lingering on people’s iPads for months.