A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Panda Poet is a browser-based word game that can be played against other opponents locally or over the Web or against the computer. It has no inherently provocative content, though players can spell light cuss words with double meanings, such as “ass.” Players can also chat with random online opponents via a simple text box, creating the potential for inappropriate conversations and the exchange of identifying information with strangers.
What's it about?
PANDA POET is a word game played in your Web browser against local players, online players, or the computer. Players take turns spelling words by combining any of the letters currently shown on the game board. Some letters offer bonuses and score multipliers, but the real trick is in creating and stealing pandas. Pandas are formed with each letter you use, and rectangular groups of adjacent pandas turn into a single large panda. These big pandas are worth bonus points at the end of the game, and can alter the outcome of a match. Pandas can change ownership if players use adjacent letters, which means the tide of a game can shift dramatically with just a few well-chosen letters in the final rounds. The free version offers players just one seven-by-seven game board supported with ads. Pay $2.99 for the full version and the ads will disappear. You’ll also gain access to bigger game boards.
Is it any good?
Panda Poet doesn’t feel much like any other word game we’ve run across -- which is saying something, given the glut of cheap word-based games flooding the web. Its turn-based nature and square tile board filled with letters assigned varying points give it a vaguely Scrabble-like flavor. Similarities to Bookworm, Boggle, and Word Racer are present, too. However, the ability to grab letters from anywhere on the board and strategic objective to create pictographic panda blocks gives it a feel all its own.
It’s not quite as accessible as you might hope -- we found it difficult to work out the rules behind the panda-stealing system without playing the tutorial -- but it remains fun even as you’re working things out. Word game fans would do well to give this one a shot, especially given the basic edition is free.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about having fun with words. What kind of word games can you make up? Have you tried rearranging words on signs while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or attempting to come up with anagrams using your name?
Families can also discuss online safety. What sort of things should you never reveal about yourself to strangers online? What would you do if you thought an online stranger was prying for personal information?
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