|System: DS, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 6, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
There are more enjoyable ways to spruce up your vocabulary by learning new words than curling up in front of the fire with the dictionary. The recent wave of successful brain training games has proven stimulating your mind while enhancing mental growth does not always have to be a snooze inducing time.
Whether or not you feel so inclined to delve into the world of edutainment may be a matter of personal preference, but Ubisoft's My Word Coach brings a surprisingly addictive language-based angle to the casual game market. If you love word games or simply seek to expand your lexicon this is one title you won't want to miss.
Designed to be played in short 15-to-20 minute sessions each day, My Word Coach strives to test players' vocabulary knowledge while also giving them a better grasp of new and interesting terms. This is done through a series of mini-games that utilize specific vocabulary words and definitions which are chosen based-on a player's assessed skill level. Ubisoft developed the game in conjunction with Dr. Thomas Michael Cobb, a professor of applied linguistics as the University of Quebec who served as a language consultant for the project. As a result, it's no half-baked affair. In order to learn new words you must be exposed to them on a regular basis and in a variety of ways. My Word Coach does just that.
Players begin with a brief introduction to the Word Training Institute given by a virtual professor (later you can choose from a handful of different professors to suit your personal taste). A few quick-and-easy mini-game tests are then given to familiarize players with the game concepts. You'll then create a user-profile which will allow you track your progress over time and access new games and tools. Once a user-profile is created, you're given an official test designed to determine your expressions potential which is simply a measure of your ability to express yourself. You'll be assigned an expression potential percentage score ranging from zero to 100 percent. For example, the game equates a score of 30 percent to a secondary student graduate, a score of 50 percent would be a newscaster, 75 percent would be in-line with a teacher, and 95 percent is on par with a poet or literary writer. The overall goal is to gradually increase your expression potential over time. Once your score is determined, the game tailors the vocabulary to match your skill level and new words will be introduced as you grow. As you play each mini-game you'll be scored on accuracy and speed, and your points will go towards meeting your daily quota.
Each of the six primary mini-games in My Word Coach is fairly simple, but they become more difficult depending on your expression potential level. The first game you'll encounter is Missing Letter where a word is shown on the top screen, and one letter is replaced with an underline. Players must determine the missing letter and then write that letter on the touch screen with the stylus. You'll go through a dozen or so words in a single round and you must plow through them as fast as possible. The letter-recognition software is occasionally inconsistent, and it will some times incorrectly interpret sloppy letters. An erasure function lets you try again, and you may also skip a word and come back to it if you get stuck. The other games are similarly basic.