Alphabear Review: Beary Fun

Alphabear is the latest mobile title from Spry Fox, who are old hat in the mobile scene. You may remember their Triple Town, a cute puzzler that was one of the earliest blockbuster free-to-play games. Alphabear is all about spelling and bears, as one might surmise given the game's title. Does Spry Fox have another hit on their hands? Read on for my Alphabear review!

Alphabear will feel immediately familiar to anyone who has played a spelling game recently. The most recent popular game in this genere is obviously Words With Friends, although various games in the same vein as Scrabble and Boggle have been kicking around on mobile for years now.

In Alphabear, you're given a game board with a set of exposed letters. You've got to spell a word using the available letters, which in turn exposes more letters to spell with. Each letter has a number on it, which represents the number of words you can make before that letter "turns to stone" and can no longer be used.

When letters are cleared, bears take their place. These bears grow in size, and will fill whatever rectangular space is available from cleared letters. At the end of the game, you're given points for these bears. Larger bears mean more points.

Pro Tip Bigger bears are worth a lot more than smaller ones. If you have to let a letter turn to stone, try to pick one around the edges rather than one in the middle, so that you can still get big bears.

Once you run out of words that can be spelled with the available letters, the game is over. Your score is tallied, and if you meet certain score thresholds, you get to open an egg and add a new bear to your collection!

You'll also see a quick "mad lib" using your words, which can often be hilarious (or scandalous, as the case may be...)! I really love this feature, and I think it's genius from a marketing point of view. It gets people sharing the game on social media without it being overbearing or forced.

Up to three bears can be turned on for each level, and they all provide different benefits. Alphabear's bears "nap" after being used, so you can't just pick the same bears every time. Bears are either "common," "rare," or "legendary." The higher the rarity of the bear, the more powerful its bonus but the longer the nap time is. Finding another of a bear you've already collected levels that bear up, making its benefits stronger.

There's a "stamina" mechanic in the form of "honey." Playing a level costs honey, and honey regenerates over time. The default maximum honey is usually enough to play Alphabear's 2 daily challenges in one sitting. This works out to be about 10-15 minutes worth of play.

I don't really mind this low time commitment, and generally speaking Alphabear is not a particularly demanding game. Pop in, play the dailies, do something else. You can pay a flat fee ($4.99) and get unlimited honey, which is a nice touch for people who are power players.

The premium currency in Alphabear is called "coins." Coins are earned whenever you find a new bear at the end of the level, and can be spent on special bonus stages which guarantee the drop of a rare or better bear.

Pro Tip If you tap on the coins icon in the stage selection screen, you can watch an ad to get some free coins. So far I've been able to do this just once per day, but free coins are free coins!

After completing enough daily challenges, a special "boss stage" unlocks. Beating this stage unlocks the next level of difficulty, where new challenges and new bears await.