DoodlePhrases is a little too particular about the phrases it’s looking for to be very much fun

Seems like there’s a doodle-anything based game on the App store these days, and I’m getting the sneaking suspicion that developers are running out of ideas. Doodle Jump, Doodle Find, Doodle Kart, Doodle Devil. Doodle this and Doodle that, better knock this off and get to the review before this gets Seussian, complete with doodle hat!

Alright, enough is enough. No more doodle jokes, promise. In DoodlePhrases the name of the game is typing out what you see. The game will draw out a rendition of a popular phrase and then start counting down. You pull up the iPhone keyboard and type in your answer. Guess right and you get points and a new picture. Guess wrong and you get another shot at it. The art style is fun, with the background looking like notebook paper and the images like crudely colored in images.

There’s different time limits you can set for your games (either 1 or 3 minutes) and there are beginner and advanced difficulties to choose from. If you’re struggling with the game you can also choose whether or not you want to have hints available. Other than that it’s you against the timer trying to rack up as many points as possible.


The real issue with DoodlePhrases is sadly also central to your ability to enjoy the game. If your wording of a phrase doesn’t match up with what the programmers have as the answer, you’ll be out of luck. So when it’s a picture of a horse wearing sneakers and you type in “horseshoe” you expect to be right, but it’s not because you need to type “horse shoe.” Another example is a picture of a person standing between two signs that say here and there. So I type “here nor there” but that’s wrong according to the game since they were looking for “neither here nor there.” When I’m looking at a picture of a man fishing and the words “compliment” floating in the water then “fishing for complements” should be acceptable. But no, “fish for a compliment” is what the game needs to see you type.

The issue with a game like this that relies on subjective answers is that it should be able to assume your meaning and make a judgement call. So while I was totally right with “here nor there” the app just says no and moves on. A setup like that works fine for math problems or sudoku or other number based setups – games in which you’re either right or wrong. But with riddles and word puzzles it gets a bit tougher, and in this case DoodlePhrases fails because of it.

It’s really for this reason alone I need to tell you you’d be better off passing this game by. I just ran into this problem over and over and over where I knew what the answer was but needed to figure out how the game needed it worded to have it count. I remember running into this issue in text based adventure games back in the 80’s and it’s just not something I can excuse in 2011. In DoodlePhrases you don’t need to type what you see, you need to type what the developers sees.