Product Type: Tomy board games
Newest Review: ... and there are no batteries required... Perfect for Christmas morning I'd say! Although Screwball Scramble is technically a single player... more
Totally screwy scrambling! Hours of fun..
Tomy Screwball Scramble
Member Name: DonPaolo
Tomy Screwball Scramble
Advantages: Great fun, an enjoyable challenge, suitable for almost all ages, several ways to play
Disadvantages: Annoying clock/timer
I owned Screwball Scramble as a child, and decided to dig it out from my parent's loft to try it again and do this review. So here goes...
<<< What is Screwball Scramble? >>>
Screwball Scramble, by Tomy, is a manual game of skill. The objective is to transport a small ball-bearing through a series of challenging obstacles to the finish line, using a selection of controls. You can also play against the clock, with the built-in timer giving you 60 seconds to complete the course.
The game consists of a plastic base unit, with a series of coloured obstacles attached to it creating an intricate course. Along one side of the board are seven different control buttons which are used to manipulate the various moveable parts of the course.
<<< Playing the Game >>>
Screwball Scramble is based on skill, good timing, nimble fingers, quick reactions, and a steady hand. None of the obstacles require force or power to negotiate - rather they require subtle touches, good judgement of timing, and a bit of patience to master.
It also relies on fair play - if you drop the ball-bearing or fail an obstacle, there is no automated system to force you back to square one. It's easy to cheat and skip the tricky parts, but the most fun is always had when facing a challenge and beating it!
<<< The Course >>>
Start the clock! You begin by placing the ball-bearing on a small sloped platform at the bottom right corner of the board. The first obstacle is the "See-Saw Bridge" - a humped bridge consisting of three see-saws. These rise and fall alternately with a press of the first button, and you must shuffle the ball-bearing along the bridge, using momentum and carefully timed presses of the button to place it on the platform at the other side. This can be a tricky first obstacle, as timing is crucial, and the ball often slips back along the bridge if you get your rhythm wrong!
Next up is what I call "The Crane" - you rotate the crane to position a small magnet above the ball-bearing, and then spin it back slowly into position over the next obstacle, the parallel bars. This sounds simple, but if you swing the crane too quickly or jerkily , the ball-bearing will fall off, as the magnet is only very weak. Once you've turned the crane, a small arch detaches the ball-bearing automatically, dropping onto...
The "Parallel Bars"! A small slider causes the bars to separate at one end, allowing the ball-bearing to slowly roll forwards. However if you don't close the bars, the ball will fall off. The trick here is to slowly part the bars, then close them as the ball starts to move; the momentum of the ball should carry it onto the next obstacle...
The "Wobbly Board" - a small platform controlled by a joystick, which can be tilted left-to-right and front-to-back. The platform has a rim round most of it and small pins to impede the progress of the ball. There are 2 exits; the first leads to the next platform, and the second is a drop, which means you have to start all over again! Careful tilting of the platform should let you roll the ball onto a small ramp...
The ball-bearing will roll along the ramp and drop into the first of "The Jumps". These are a series of tubes of increasing height - a simple button press pushes a small piston out of the tubes to 'jump' the ball up to the next tube. The key here is not getting carried away - if you hit the button too hard you will launch the ball too far, or even off the game board entirely. as you gently jump it up the steps, you finally have to launch it through a small hoop and onto another ramp. This ramp leads to a dark and terrifying place...
The "Labyrinth"!!! Of course, calling it the labyrinth is a massive exaggeration here - this is a small tubular maze controlled by another joystick, but it is definitely the most tricky of all the obstacles in Screwball Scramble. This is primarily because the maze is covered, and you can't actually see where the ball is, you can only here it roll back and forth as you tilt the maze with the joystick. There are a few tricky turns and a couple of dead ends to negotiate here, and it can be frustrating as you will often lose track of the ball completely. When you finally get the ball-bearing to drop out of the maze, with palpable relief, you face the aeroplane...
The "Aeroplane" is a small plane attached to a plastic arm, and is controlled by the same twisting control as the "Crane". This time, rather than being carried by a magnet, the ball-bearing sits in a small indentation on top of a plane, and you must slowly and steadily rotate the arm round to the next platform. Again this must be done carefully to avoid the ball rolling off, but at the end you do have to speed up in order to knock the ball off and onto the next platform.
The ball-bearing will now roll and drop into "The Catapult" - the final obstacle in the game. The catapult is one of the simpler obstacles, but it is very easy to misjudge and fail at the final hurdle. A simple press of the final button 'fires' the catapult sending it over, dropping the ball through a ring to hit the small bell and signal the end of the game. Press too lightly and the catapult won't make it past the 90 degree point, but press to hard and you might get an eyeful of ball-bearing. Be careful!
<<< Ways to Play >>>
Technically, Screwball Scramble is designed to be played by one person at a time, however there are several different ways to play which make it more fun. You could play alone, either in your own time, or against the clock. You could also have more than one player, controlling different obstacles and using teamwork to complete the course.
Probably the most fun option is to 'race', competing with other players to see who can complete the course fastest. Whichever way you choose to play, nimble fingers and good timing are the key to enjoying this great game.
<<< Opinions of the Game >>>
Screwball Scramble is great fun to play - and offers a healthy challenge to all ages. It's difficult to master the various controls, but not so tough as to become frustrating or boring. Using a combination of careful timing, agility and patient, controlled touches, you will be able to complete it eventually!
My only very minor complaint is that the timer and buzzer do get on my nerves. As the clock counts down, it makes a rattling ticking sound. This might be intended to add to the frantic pace of a timed game, but it is actually just annoying. It's probably even more annoying for parents who have to listen to the incessant buzzing as their kids try repeatedly to do the the course!
<<< Suitability >>>
Screwball Scramble is suitable for kids aged 6 and over. This is due to the loose ball-bearing, which obviously is a choking hazard for younger children. Although it is billed as a game for young children, it's still great fun for older children, and many adults will also find it a fun challenge.
Screwball Scramble is a quality game which will last for ages if properly looked after. Mine has lasted over 20 years and is still in perfect working order. It is a solid construction, with no sharp edges or rough parts. Although sturdy, some of the obstacles could be fragile if you are sufficiently rough with them, or if the game is not properly stored in the box.
<<< Price >>>
Screwball Scramble is currently available on Amazon for between £10 and £11, which is a decent price to pay for a fun, challenging and well-made game.
<<< Final Thoughts >>>
It's been a very fun and nostalgic experience playing it once more for the first time in about 15 years - I found myself getting quite addicted all over again...
Summary: A fun and challenging game for all the family
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