I am fond of fellow TUAW blogger Dave Caolo and friendly with Brian Akaka, and were it not for those associations there is no way I would have tried out Hangman RSS HD for iPad by Finger Arts, because on paper the game just sounded absolutely dire. But Dave had given it a spin at Macworld and found it playable, and Brian Akaka asked very nicely if I would give it an honest try.
And what do you know? I liked it. A lot. Hangman RSS HD turns out to be insanely addicting and challenging.
It's a standard hangman game played with real time RSS feeds from all over the world. That means you're just about as likely to find a story about horrible events as one that's...family friendly. The first game I played was about a 9-year old Yemini bride. I nearly didn't make it to the second game, but I'm glad that I persevered. Once you understand that the game uses unfiltered, real world topics you'll be able to switch your attention to the word challenges and catching up on the news.
There's not a lot to explain about how the game works. Nearly everyone has played Hangman, the game where you get several chances to guess the letters in an obscured word. When you guess too many wrong letters, you lose. Hangman RSS keeps track of your successful solutions and you can challenge yourself to keep getting longer and longer "runs" of wins.
There are several levels of game play, where the number of obscured words increases from one to two, to three, and so forth. A small semi-obscured clue appears at the bottom of each puzzle, and you can "dig" into a story to read the original articles directly from the game.
The iPad delivery really lends itself to reading the news web pages. Its expansive screen means the tiles and interaction elements really have room to "breathe." The game is a very good match to the iPad.
I found myself playing this game for hours. I also (inadvertently) learned how to spell the names of much-mourned Polish leaders. There's a lot of that going on in Hangman RSS. When you play with real news, there's a bitter that goes along with the sweet. It's real but it can be hard.
Hangman RSS HD for iPad costs $2.99 at the App Store.