But if you love the movies — and come on, who doesn’t? — Cine2Nerdle may feel like a breath of fresh air.
The game looks like Wordle and has a name that’s similar to Wordle, but the main underlying mechanic is quite different. Cine2Nerdle presents players with a four-by-four set of tiles, each with a word or phrase on it that corresponds to a movie. Move the tiles around (you can swap any two tiles, anywhere on the board) to create a vertical or horizontal line of four phrases that all correspond to a single movie (eg, Holy Grail, Jones, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford all add up to “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”). Each board includes four or five movies, meaning four to five arrangements of tiles that add up to a single movie. Your task is to complete the puzzle with only 15 tile swaps.
It’s also bingeable, like so much TV these days: An archive of over 60 past puzzles is available if you’ve got a craving and time to spare. Recently, I found myself churning through the game’s back catalogue, completing about half the archive in the week since I found the game through writer and comedian Demi Adejuyigbe.
i know the prime age of the wordle spin-off has died down but i discovered this one a few weeks ago and did the entire archive in one night, i love it so much https://t.co/UNFDU38HYW
—demi adejuyigbe (@electrolemon) January 11, 2023
The game reaches approximately 15 to 20 thousand players each day, a source of joy for the game’s sole developer Nilanth Yogadasan, a PhD candidate in Canada.
“I’ve loved movies for as long as I can remember,” Yogadasan told The Washington Post via Twitter DM. “I remember being as young as 4-5 and my sister forcing me to watch horror movies with her and her friends that we were all definitely way too young for (specific memories of Carrie), and I remember just really loving the dynamic of us all sitting around and getting scared but ultimately enjoying a movie together.
“I’ve actually had a few complaints about the number of horror movies featured among my CineNerdle puzzles.”
As far as names go, Cine2Nerdle is a bit of a clunker. Yogadasan admits he didn’t put much thought into naming when he launched the game’s predecessor, CineNerdle, last year. In that game, players are presented with nine tiles that, when clicked, reveal parts of a still from a movie. Players are tasked with guessing the title of the film before the full image is revealed (and each wrong guess reveals a part of the image).
“I, of course, wanted to get in on the -rdle name patterns and this was unfortunately the best way I could come up with,” Yogadasan said. “I’ve grown to love it though! Cine2Nerdle was a given and is just a play on the ridiculous ways movies would sneak in sequel numbers in titles (2Fast2Furious). I already know if there’s ever a third, it’s going to be called CineNerdl3 … or Cin3Nerdle… or something like that.”
During peak Wordle in 2022, CineNerdle saw 20 to 25 thousand users per day, Yogadasan said. But there’s a price that comes with maintaining a game of even modest (compared to Wordle) popularity.
“It costs quite a bit to run both games unfortunately,” Yogadasan said. “I currently only have a (quite expensive) subscription to Adobe suite because of programs that help me with capturing, and formatting the images used for CineNerdle. And then there is the actual cost of hosting both sites as well as maintaining the database that stores play information and global statistics.”
There’s also the incalculable cost in terms of time spent maintaining the games.
“I spend about a full work day’s time every week updating both games’ puzzles,” Yogadasan said. “Making quality Cine2Puzzles can be really time consuming. I know it sounds like I’m complaining, but … I genuinely do love maintaining the puzzles and then seeing how everyone does on them and how much they seem to enjoy them.”
On Twitter, Yogadasan has requested that fans support the games’ maintenance and development via the donation platform Ko-fi. So far, donations don’t quite cover the costs of running the two games, but they help. And the positive feedback from players has been a reward in and of itself.
“With how much I’ve enjoyed the whole creation and development process with the CineNerdles, I’m now trying to transition out of biological research and into tech/software development,” Yogadasan said.