One of my post popular posts on the blog so far is about the demise of Boxerjam, an early leading gaming platform site that created interactive online “game shows” that people could play with friends and other online users, gameplay which remains somewhat unique and elusive more than a decade later. A notable fact was it was founded by Julann Griffin, who, while wife to Merv Griffin, was credited with co-creating Jeopardy! She’s long been credited with asking Merv why he didn’t flip the standard Q&A and give the answers, and have people provide the questions?
It’s been a decade now since Boxerjam was sold to then-newspaper chain Media General, and in the intervening years the JAM in Boxerjam, Griffin and her sister, Maureen Roberts (Julann and Maureen: JAM), partnered with Candisse Reynolds (the Candy, I’m starting to catch on) and Jam and Candy was born.
Right now, there’s two games, one online and one as a mobile app. The online game, “Piki Paka,” is pretty straight forward – select from three buttons (featuring numeric ranges) five times, with the goal of finishing in a winning range of numbers to score points and advance to the next round. In a round of playing, I stopped playing before I actually lost, as the selection of number ranges got repetitive very quickly. That said, it’s likely to be attractive to a younger crowd who may find the math and range calculations to be a fun challenge.
The second game, “Move Your Vowels,” is an iOS and Android game (I played on iPad) that comes with 50 games to start and feels much more in the spirit of the classic Boxerjam. In this, vowels are removed from words and phrases in a series of successive rounds. Speed and accuracy allow you to score higher. The first round starts off easy; by the third and final round you’re filling in all the vowels out of a lengthy phrase. There are eight puzzles to complete in each game, so the pacing is brisk.
The game has the vibe of one of the Boxerjam classics, Out of Order, although I do miss the race against the other players.
I did encounter a few teething issues during my playing of the app. Once you’ve played through the 50 games, additional games can be bought in packs of 50 for 99 cents each; in my tests, I had trouble getting the additional packs to load, but iTunes does show an in-app item available. The loading screen also has no x, so I had to force-quit the app and reopen to resume playing the included games.
I also found the letter placing a bit weird feeling; many times, I’d touch the tile to select a letter and drag, but the letter appeared much higher on the screen, meaning I’d have to drag my finger past the blank to drop it into the right place. Once you get the hang of it, though, it’s not too challenging to control, and I never once mistakenly grabbed the wrong letter or placed it in the wrong place, so the controls, from that standpoint, are intuitive enough.
It’s a promising start from pioneers in the online gaming space. I hope they bring back their classic multi-player format at some point, however; as Ludia’s suite of games such as Millionaire and Press Your Luck, and the recent You Don’t Know Jack Facebook game, show, there’s still a clamoring for good multi-player online options, and we know this team can do it, so I hope that’s in the cards (especially with new formats; most of what exists today are reboots or adaptations of previous formats). That said, I’m particularly excited about “Move Your Vowels,” and look forward to more from the Jam and Candy team.