WordStars challenges you and your friends to guess letters and race to be the first to solve hidden phrases.

One look at WordStars, once you’ve got past the option to start a new game with friends or strangers and purchase one of four different power-ups, and you’ll know exactly what you’re in for. The game bears more than a passing resemblance to the television game show Wheel of Fortune, with a big thumb-spun wheel covered in dollars amounts (and the ever-present “miss a turn”) and a board covered with blank white blocks that fill with letters as you play. The objective is simple: guess the letters, solve the puzzle, and win the game!

WordStars     WordStars

There are a few twists to the action that make WordStars more suitable for competitive online action. You get two spins per turn, and the previously-mentioned power-ups, purchased with coins earned by playing the game or through real-money microtransactions, make the job of correctly guessing letters just a little bit easier. Whether you get a letter or not, you still have the opportunity solve the puzzle after your spins are complete.

Individual turns are fast and furious, and although you’re at the mercy of the other player once your turn is over, the action tends to move along quite quickly when you and your opponent are playing the game at the same time. The built-in timer, meanwhile, ensures that nobody drags their feet or spends too long staring at the board, trying to come up with the solution. The interface is colorful, clean, and simple, and the sound effects and music, while a bit on the minimal side, are quite adequate for a mobile puzzle game.

WordStars     WordStars

The free-to-play WordStars looks like it has a lot of potential, especially among the subset of word game fans who also have a thing for Wheel of Fortune. It’s currently available in the Canadian App Store for devices running iOS 4.3 or later, and should get a wide release within the next couple of weeks.