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Lex's adventures begin with a quest: save his friend Cassandra, who has been kidnapped by an unknown evil. With the aid of Professor Codex's magic pen, he jumps into the books of the Great Library to search for her, defeating enemies along the way with words created from a grid of letters. The longer the words, the more powerful Lex's attacks are.
As Lex progresses through each book chapter, the monsters (in the first Book World based on Greek Mythology, with the second themed of 1001 Arabian Knights and the third of Horror) get more difficult, with a boss fight at the end of every chapter. Fortunately, Lex also becomes stronger; he occasionally levels up in HP, attack, or defense and obtains a nifty treasure at the end of every chapter with various beneficial effects. Additionally, every book has optional minigames, unlocked once Lex has completed a certain number of chapters, that can be played for prizes.
The plot also thickens the further Lex seems to get in his quest; while it's fairly linear and relatively simplistic compared to pure RPGs, each book adds one or two twists to it and the resulting plot is a bit more complex than you would expect of a game with a bookworm as the main character.
Of course, Bookworm's major appeal is the word making, and Bookworm Adventures upholds that tradition very, very much with bonus sparkly gem tiles and much better chances to piece together 10+ words. A free trial and/or purchase of the game is available here.
A sequel, Bookworm Adventures Volume 2 was released in 2009. The three books in this installment are Fractured Fairytales (which interestingly includes Alice in Wonderland), The Monkey King (based on Chinese mythology), and Astounding Planet (based on sci-fi).
This game contains the tropes:
- Awesome but Practical: You might want to hoard some of the more powerful gem tiles for boss battles, but there's no harm in putting a couple of the lower-ranked ones into your words as long-enough words will automatically give you more gem tiles.
- Badass Bookworm: Lex, in the most literal form ever.
- Bag of Spilling: To a certain extent; Lex loses levels and most of his treasures in the sequel, but retains the ability to use gem tiles.
- Big Bad: Professor Codex in the first game and Bigger Brother in the second.
- Bow Ties Are Cool: Lex's red bowtie of course.
- Continuity Nod: Two of these in Volume 2 - Codex's magic pen is even more of a Plot Device than in the first game, and the book enumeration continues, starting with "book 4".
- Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: When Lex dies, he's merely transported back to the beginning of the chapter he died in. The game says that you lose the potions you used, but you'd have lost them anyway even if you had survived (them having been used, after all). Plus, you don't lose experience and you get the opportunity to replay minigames to win additional potions and/or gem tiles if you're far enough in the book, which means that you can deliberately throw the boss fight in a late chapter of a book, play the minigames to get more potions and gem tiles, then go back to that chapter and defeat all enemies for more experience, and even throw the boss fight again to stock up on more potions and experience. When you die, Cassandra even says that "dying is a minor setback".
- Defeat Equals Friendship: The Monkey King and Skeletrox.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: There are a lot of things that want our green hero dead.
- Guilt Based Gaming: The "Do you want to quit?" dialog box shows a sad-eyed Lex saying "Don't leave me!" and asks you if you can really refuse a cute face like that.
- Historical Domain Character: H. G. Wells in the sequel.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Polydamas, technically.
- A bookburner in the sequel is set on fire.
- A sword swallower gets stabbed with his own swords.
- A pirate's head is blown off with his own cannon.
- Inventory Management Puzzle: Lex can only carry three treasures at a time. The total number of treasures is eighteen.
- Justified Tutorial: The first few chapters are essentially Cassandra sending psychic visions to teach Lex the basics of gameplay.
- Volume 2's tutorial is Lex doing morning training.
- Living MacGuffin: Cassandra in the first game.
- Loading Screen: When loading a world, there are humorous little loading phrases such as "Animating things" and "Dividing by 0". Also when the game starts up, there are letter tiles spelling out "Loading" that Lex chomps through. This concept may reference the game's predecessor, Bookworm.
- The Medic: Mother Goose in Volume 2 (in terms of giving potions) and Cheshire Cat (for healing status ailments).
- Mineral MacGuffin: You get shiny gem tiles when you form long-enough words, and you can use them in words to make them more powerful and damaging.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lex's quest to save Cassandra turns out to only have furthered the Big Bad's plans. Fortunately, he gets a final boss battle to set everything right.
- Happens again in Volume 2. The reason why Big Brother's in control? Because when Lex went back in time to stop all of this, he dropped Codex's magic pen in the past!
- Nintendo Hard: Although one could also say that it simply has a large amount of fake difficulty. Thankfully the developers were at least partly aware of this, see Death Is a Slap on The Wrist above.
- Plot Device: Prof. Codex's magic pen. More prominent in Volume 2.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: After fighting Volume 1's final boss, he asks Lex for his last words. Lex suggests "hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian", which is sufficient for a final Kamehame Hadoken.
- Prequel: According to Word of God, the game is this to Bookworm.
- The Reveal: Lex learns near the end of the game that the Big Bad who kidnapped Cassandra wasn't Dracula but Professor Codex who used his imprisonment of Cassandra (and Dracula's apparent kidnapping of him) to maneuver Lex into fighting the books' monsters and unknowingly breaking the chains of fiction that kept them in the books. Thanks to Lex doing such a great job with these monsters, Codex can now control them as his minions.
- Twist Ending: See The Reveal above.
- Riddle Me This: The Sphinx battle consists entirely of this, as the goal is to spell the exact word she wants.
- Shown Their Work: The sequel's Tome of Knowledge lists the literary inspiration for each enemy.
- Standard Status Effects: Enemies can poison, stun, petrify, burn, bleed, freeze and/or depower Lex. Sometimes more than one effect in a single attack. On the other hand, Lex can poison, burn, depower and/or freeze them right back with the right types of gem tiles, and he can purify himself of all negative status effects with a blue potion or a crystal tile. Some treasures also protect him from specific effects, but usually not all the time.
- Status Buff: Drinking a green potion increases the power of Lex's next word-based attack. However, enemies can also power themselves up.
- Stealth Pun: Frankenstein's Castle is home to a multi-limbed monster named Parkerstein and Arnoldstein who would "do well in politics". The chapter title also suggests there's a light there.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: After Lex receives Hephaestus's gift, he can gain bonus gem tiles if he finishes off an enemy with a much larger amount of damage than needed.
- True Companions: Quite an impressive menagerie over the course of Volume 2.
- Tyrannosaurus Rex: A juvenile & adult are enemies in the sequel.
- Words Can Break My Bones: Every monster defeated by Lex will have to explain to their family and friends that they were beaten like a red-headed stepchild by the words of a bespectacled green worm with a bowtie. And they couldn't even break his glasses!
- Xanatos Gambit: Professor Codex appears to be happy to help Lex rescue Cassandra, but it turns out that he had reasons of his own to help Lex make it through all the books, as detailed above in The Reveal. Also, the entire events of the second game are a plot to create a Stable Time Loop assuring Bigger Brother power.