Developed at Ubisoft’s renowned Montreal Studio, My Word Coach on Wii is a casual title meant to improve your vocabulary. It follows in the footsteps of games like Brain Age and is essentially a collection of mini-games presented under the guise of a training program. While the mini-games themselves are a little simplistic, the words presented are in fact quite advanced and certainly challenging. Until you've seen them all at least.
Playing My Word Coach is supposed to increase your “expression potential”, or your ability to express yourself in writing and orally. After an initial 40 word assessment asking you whether or not you a familiar with each term, you will receive a rank out of 100. We started in the mid 50s. Read More...
The single player mode includes a few levels. “Missing Letters” is a fill in the blank game. Using an onscreen spray can/pen you are asked to complete a series of words as rapidly as possible. The level has a generally good level of text recognition, though some mistakes do occur. Specifically, we noticed the game would often misread a wrong letter by recognizing the proper letter instead. J and S were the letters that got misread the most in our experience.
Later on, an unlockable feature allows you to use a DS’s touch screen to write, which drastically speeds up this process. The level of recognition seems quite a bit better when using the DS as an input device, it's a real shame that more games in this collection don't take advantage of it.
“Split Decision” shows two definitions for one word, asking you to choose the right one. Some problems are simpler then others, and guess work can be useful. “Word Shuffle” presents multiple words and definitions to be matched up. A useful feature, My Word Coach will review each word with its definition following a level.
Another level, “Word Soup” requires players to sort the letters of a mystery word, only knowing its definition. However, this level is almost impossible to solve as the definitions, some a few sentences long, appear for just two or three seconds, leaving players little time to read and understand them.
Training quickly becomes stale with very few unlockable levels and a general lack in variety. Daily quotas also tend to limit gameplay sessions to 15 or 20 minutes at a time. However, the game does offer a multiplayer option, matching players up in levels similar to those in single player mode. While it sounds like multiplayer contests could extend the life of My Word Coach, the game variations all seem to fall flat, and sessions rarely last more than a few minutes.
Words and definitions started to repeat themselves in a matter of just a couple days, and after a week it felt more like we were playing a pattern recognition game than actually building our vocabulary or learning anything. We seriously doubt the title's longevity beyond maybe a couple weeks.
My Word Coach takes full advantage of the Wii remote’s motion and infrared control options. Scrolling in the menus is achieved by tilting the remote left and right, writing missing letters uses the controller as a pen and you can re-sort letters of a word by pointing at them and “picking them up”. It should be noted that the input method requires a pretty steady hand, any slips can cause a wrong answer to be registered by the game.
Unlike Nintendo's own Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree, My Word Coach does not include any Mii integration; it instead offers a few generic looking player icons to choose from. Presentation on the whole is actually rather bland and unappealing. The game is presented exclusively in the 4:3 aspect ratio and did not fare very well on our HD display. While games like this and Wii in general aren't about the graphics, it would have made a lot of difference if just a little more care went into making the game look cleaner.
The game’s vocabulary is quite advanced, perhaps even targeted towards British gamers, using such terms as “petrol” to say gasoline and “skinflint” to say cheap. Other terms are very specific, scientific or technical even leaving you to wonder when you will ever get the chance to utilize them in your daily communications.
Overall, My Word Coach misses the mark. It fails at making a lasting impression due to a sub par presentation and apparent lack of inspiration. As well it fails at being a true vocabulary coach, using words which we doubt will help improve your communication skills. There are better ways to spend the $40 UbiSoft is asking for this game at retail, like maybe a dictionary or thesaurus.
+ DS can be used as a controller
+ Decent writing recognition
- Odd vocabulary choices
- Bland presentation
- Not enough modes or variety
Game Forward Score: 3/5
Nathalie Caron > Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward
My Word Coach (Wii) Quick Facts:
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: November 6, 2007
Price: $39.99 USD
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)