Actually the game is called Phrase Madness, and it was created by Ken Downey a few years ago. Ken is one of the Blindfold Games testers, and he’s given me some great feedback and advice on building accessible games.
Ken created a bunch of games on Windows and he thought Phrase Madness would be a fun game for the iPhone. It’s a cross between concentration and wheel of fortune. The objective is to match the beginning of a common expression with the end of the expression. For example, you would match “It’s a beautiful day in the” with the ending “neighborhood”.
After you play for a while, simply matching phrases can get boring, and that’s where the madness kicks in. With over 300 phrases, there are new and interesting combinations that pop-up when you accidentally, or intentionally, match the beginning of one phrase with the end of another phrase. For example, take the phrases, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood” and, “Goodness gracious great balls of fire”. These two phrases might get mixed up while you’re trying to match them, and you might hear “It’s a beautiful day in the fire!”.
The first step in getting the game to work on the iPhone was for me to re-write the code from the Basic language that Ken used on Windows, to Objective C, which I use for most of my iPhone apps. Then I had to adjust the game to feel right on an iPhone.
Under Windows, you play Phrase Madness by typing a letter on the keyboard for the first phrase, and then another letter for the second phrase, so you can match up to 26 phrases. Most people, I thought, don’t use keyboards with their iPhone, so you scroll through a list of phrase beginnings. Each item in the list was identified by a letter from A to Z. You pick the beginning, then scroll through a list of phrase endings.
When I started testing the game, the first complaint was that many people couldn’t hear the difference between some of the letters; the letter “C”, “D” and “E” all sound similar. I changed the game so each item was identified by a number, and for the most part, people liked the game.
Then I started hearing from the people who played Phrase Madness under Windows. They said the game sucked: it was slow, awkward, and far worse than the Windows version. It just took too long to scroll through the list to get to the phrase number they wanted.
I’ll leave the solution for another day.