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Like many households buying computer games are a considered purchase, so I tend to go for collections of games or those which offer long term playability and/or good multiplayer facilities. The main reason my mum and I had our games consoles in the first place was that we could play electronic versions of our favourite board games meaning no boards to lay out, minimal clearing up and no pieces going walkabouts. One of the games on my mum's wish list was Scrabble, and I was originally going to get the 2007 version for my mum's Christmas present on the year of release but nobody had it in stock at the time. Once I had acquired some Amazon vouchers, I looked at getting the game again but I noticed that there was a newer version which was a few quid cheaper, so I bought my mum a copy of Scrabble Interactive 2009 Edition and one for myself.
AVAILABILITY AND SUITABILITY
You'll find Scrabble Interactive 2009 Edition (which I will refer to as 'Scrabble' from now on) from all good computer/video game stockists and online retailers. As I said, I bought mine from Amazon and it cost £9.99 including postage.
The game is published by Ubisoft, and is rated 12 under the PEGI game certification system and there is a bad language warning which is hardly surprising for a word game.
When you start the game for the first time, you can set up your player profile, player image and so on. While Scrabble has a 12 rating, you can set up a 'junior' profile which prevents offensive words from being played, so I can't see any reason why a younger child couldn't enjoy the game under adult supervision. I was taught to play Scrabble at a young age, and I don't think there was the Junior version when I was growing up (I'm 35).
This game enables you to set up two player profiles, so when you start the game you tap on the name of which one you want. You can also edit and delete the profiles from this screen if you like.
The menu system is best described as a scroll wheel, you slide through the various options to bring up the option you want. While I'm not a fan of this type of system as it makes finding everything a bit cumbersome, I did find the menu was intuitively laid out and well organised.
~Graphics and Sound~
I felt the game translated across to the DS platform brilliantly, and both the screens have been used as well as can be expected. In the standard view, you get the board on the touch screen along with your letter rack, and the top screen features your player icon, score, and Letter Mind is on hand to give hints and tips as you play. I like the idea of facial expression on the player icons changing when you're winning (or losing) though the smile on the winner's faces reminds me of the sinister grin The Joker has in the 'Batman' movies of the 1980/90's.
I was worried that the board might be too small which might have made it difficult to see the pieces and move them around, but I didn't experience any problems. The letters are clear and I had no difficulties in putting them on the board. I can zoom in on the board at any time by double tapping a blank space on the touch screen, which gives you a more realistic impression of the Scrabble board including the labeled bonus squares. The overview of the complete board is displayed in the top screen and I can move around the board by touching the screen and dragging the stylus. If I want to return to the normal view, I just double tap the touch screen again. The dictionary used in this game is the updated Collins official Scrabble dictionary according to the box.
The game controls are clearly laid out and responsive most of the time, sometimes selecting a tile for exchange or moving multiple tiles at once, can take a few attempts but it doesn't happen very much. I also like the idea that I can rearrange my tiles manually and/or using a button to sort or jumble up the letters, I have found better words by doing that even it they don't jump out at me automatically. The definition of each word is displayed in what I can only describe as BBC News type ticker tape that runs at the bottom of the DS system's upper screen. If I have missed something I can tap on the word and the definition is displayed.
I'm not very impressed with the background music and sound effects, but in my opinion that seems to be the norm as far as computer games are concerned. I have turned them off in the Options section of the main menu, but I can also turn the DS volume control down.
The campaign mode is described as a way of discovering 'the mysteries of Scrabble in a grand round-the-world adventure'. During this mode you travel around the world meeting the different opponents with 'Letter Mind' on hand offering advice on gameplay strategy and how to make the most of the tiles and the bonus squares which is something I hadn't really paid attention to, so I felt like I learned something to boost my scores when playing for real. Examples include extending words already on the board, and placing words against each other creating two or more words at the same time.
On the downside, I found the campaign mode tedious at times, as it felt like I was tapping on numerous screens which seemed like forever, to get to the gameplay sections. If I didn't achieve the tasks the first time I had the opportunity to try again, but if I turned the console off or the battery went it went to the beginning of the section I was playing meaning going through the story which was in my opinion naff, but each to their own. I think a tutorial section would have been better, but I can see that the developers perhaps wanted to try something different.
You get three variations of Scrabble in this section. The 'Classic' game which is the traditional game of Scrabble that I know and love, and this is the game that I play the most whether it's against the computer or in multiplayer mode. I can imagine that most people buy this game to play this version, myself included.
Tempest aims to add a twist to the classic game by adding cards which state different things such as adding new bonus squares or putting targets on your opponent such as restricting the number of letters or making a word achieve a certain score. It does add an exciting element to the game as I don't know what is going to happen next. I think this version would appeal to children who might think Scrabble is boring.
Duplicate, as I understand from the instruction booklet, is the version played at tournaments. I admit I hadn't heard of it, and I didn't know there was such thing as a Scrabble tournament either. In this version each player (plus an additional CPU) receives identical letters and the highest scoring word is added to the board, but you still receive a score for the words you make. I must admit that I've yet to come up with a word with a high enough score to be added to the board.
By default, Classic and Duplicate Scrabble are set up to play against three opponents which I think is too many when playing against a computer. Tempest which is played against one CPU. I can choose my opponents by tapping on the arrows above and below his or her avatar, if I want to reduce the number of opponents I change them to display the question mark icon. The only problem here is there is no way of setting the number of players you want by default so I have have to do this manually each time I have loaded the game cartridge or changed game mode. The computer opponents have all different abilities and from my experience 'Clovis' is the easiest and 'Esmé' is the most difficult to beat, it does mean that you can choose other players based on your mood. I'd say they are not impossible as I successfully beat all of them in the Campaign Mode. One tip I would give is to try and get as higher scoring word you can early in the game, to try and get an advantage over your opponent. Ideally you need to have the high scoring letters (eg JZKQX) and using the bonus squares to get this to work, but that is the luck of the draw. You can exchange your letters if you can't make any words.
The quick games are pretty much what you would expect from Scrabble in terms of playing and scoring and unlike the traditional board game the maths part is done for you. I admit I've been taken by surprise that some of the words I've put on the board are real, one of my 'discoveries' was 'QI' which landed me 33 points as I had it on a triple word score, I thought that was impressive for a two letter word, so it tells me that the length of the word doesn't matter but how well you place your words. I have also learned some words from the CPUs which I have carried across to playing my mother in multiplayer mode.
You can also add extra challenges such as a penalty if you enter a word that isn't in the dictionary - that results in a missed turn. If you haven't got much time you can also set a time limit each player has in the game eg 15 minutes, or if you want to think on your feet you can set a time limit per round but since the CPUs think and make their move quickly this only really works in multiplayer mode.
I think with most games of this kind, Scrabble really comes alive in multiplayer mode and as with the traditional board game you can play with up to three other opponents. I like the fact it comes with the single card game play mode which means you can play using the DS system's download play facility if your friends and family haven't got the game. As my mum and I have got a card each we mostly use multi card play, but the download play is useful if either of us have left our game card upstairs and we want a quick game of Scrabble. If you are playing using the single card game connection then you can only play the classic or duplicate versions of Scrabble. You will need the multi-card option to play Tempest.
Setting up and joining multiplayer game is straightforward by using the 'Multiplayer' option from the main menu. I also like the fact that you can choose the Scrabble variation after the players have joined as you don't have to keep creating a new room each time you want to play a different variation of the game. This means if you're using the single card game play option, that those that are using download play don't have to keep shutting down the console to play a different variation which is the case in a couple of the games in my DS collection.
You can also set options such as timed games or rounds, and also challenges as you can on the Quick Games. You can, though add some extra challenges for playing invalid words on the board, but I think this spoils the game as I feel it encourages cheating.
On the whole the wireless connection is stable, and I haven't had any problems with the signal dropping and we have managed to play with me upstairs and my mum in the lounge without any problems. Mum's bedroom is located directly above the lounge so the distance between the consoles isn't that great.
I think with a game which has the popularity of Scrabble, that it is a shame that the developers didn't include an internet mode using the DS system's wifi facility which would have opened the game up to playing with friends and family (or anyone in the world) with a Nintendo DS system and a wireless internet connection. I think this is something that the developers should consider if there is a new version of this game along with the chat feature, for me it would make a new version (2011 perhaps) worth buying.
BONUSES, EXTRAS AND RECORDS
In this section you get a few mini word games which are all designed to help you make better words and increase your scores, but I think they are a love or hate affair.
Scrabble Hold 'Em is described by the developer as being a 'thrilling mix' of Scrabble and Poker. I've played this a few times and I don't really understand it, but then again I'm not a Poker player. I think this game will only appeal to those who understand and like Poker. I had high hopes for Escaletters and Anagrams as they sounded exciting in the instruction book, but they turned out to be disappointing, and I soon became bored with them. I know the aim of these games are designed to help you boost your vocabulary, but I felt that too many of them were obscure, and having to tap the respective pass/help button too many times.
Puzzletters is in my opinion the best of the mini games, and it is the one that I play the most. It is a wordsearch type game which reminds me, in a way, of the online game Bookworm, but without the burning and bonus letters. You are given a grid of Scrabble tiles and you are given tasks such as finding two words within 100 seconds, and completion earns you more grids. As the levels progress you have to find more words which like Bookworm uses letters up, down left and right to form words. There is a twist though, you can only use each letter once on each grid, so words cannot overlap which certainly adds to the challenge, at the end of each round the letters used disappear and are replaced with new ones. The word score is based on the tiles. If you like Bookworm or Boggle then this game will probably appeal to you.
This is designed to help you with playing the real life board game of Scrabble, though I think its too limited to be of any real use. You can use it to look up words in the dictionary and to check anagrams, and thats about it. You can use it to record the game scores, but you have to do the maths yourself though the game helper keeps a running total after each round. I'm useless at maths, so I would have found it helpful to have included a score calculator including buttons for the bonus squares and for the blank tiles which don't score any points. I think this is something the developers could consider if there is a new version of this game.
The High Scores section documents your best achievements for each of the varieties of Scrabble and the mini games. Your top three highest scores are recorded using the obligatory gold, silver and bronze trophies. Other recorded achievements depend on the game, for instance in the classic game you can find out what your highest scoring words are, and the biggest gap (how many points ahead you are).
There is also a section called achievements which you can unlock as you play the game an example is breakaway, so far I have managed to unlock only one of these.
This is where I feel the game is disappointing, there isn't much opportunity to unlock new items. You can unlock wallpapers and a new opponent by playing the campaign mode, but I would have liked to have seen a bonus points system to 'buy' more in the way of opponents and board designs.
In my opinion, this game is the one of the best implementations of Scrabble I have seen on a handheld device, and I think that is largely down to the Nintendo DS system having dual screens and being able to zoom in on the board to see what I'm doing. I think it's one of those games that offers long term playability and can also help improve your game and strategy, and I think I have become a better player as a result of having this, and this has carried over into multiplayer mode. I am thinking more about higher scoring words by making more use of the higher valued tiles and bonus squares rather than playing the longest word which might not be the best scorewise. I've also extended my vocabulary and now use some of the words from the CPU opponents in games against my Mum. I think with any game like this it is much better to play against a real person than a computer.
If you enjoy playing Scrabble or word games then I don't think you can go wrong with buying this, and at £10 it represents good value for money, so I recommend shopping around to find the best deal. I think it would make an excellent game to take on the move as there are no pieces to go missing on route. Accordingly I award the game a four star rating as I cannot fault the classic game of Scrabble, which I think is the main reason why I think someone would buy this, but I think it sorely misses an internet multiplayer mode which is why it's lost a star.
Also on Ciao under same username
Everyone knows what scrabble is right? Well incase you dont.. its a letter tile and word game. With your letter tiles you make words on the scrabble board.
In this DS version, you play against one opponents as you would in the normal board game and use your selected letter tiles to create a word on the board.
As the board game you only ever have 7 tiles at a time and must create a word using those tiles. Each letter, which is already set has a set score and of course the longer your word the higher chance you may have of scoring a higher score. Nouns and more common letters will score you one point and letters such as Z have a higher score of 10. Within the board also.. in order to help you score even higher points are bonus tiles, such as double letter score, triple letter score, double word score and double letter score.
In this game there are a few modes you can play. One of which is the tournament, whereby you play against one opponent at a time, of course playing scrabble. Of course each opponent as you go along gets harder and you even get timed and may sometimes lose your turn if you take too long. The further you go into the game, the more uncommon the words of the opponent gets.. so get your dictionary out!
Overall I think this is a good word game, which does make you think. However, I do believe placing a board game onto an electronic device does not give it the same feeling and you almost feel like you are cheating scrabble by playing it electronically instead of manually simply like you used to. I do like this game on the ds but it could do with abit of a change in order to make it feel abit more different! One thing that is very noticeable about this game is the music when you are playing. It almost makes you feel like screaming because of how it makes you feel. I feel very tense when playing this game and having the sound on for some reason...not sure if its meant to but for some reason for me it does.
This game has a good playability but can get abit tedious especially if the level you are on is just too hard. Maybe the levels jump too quickly from easy to medium to super hard!
Overall I would recommend playing this game if you had it lying around but maybe not buy it. Get the board game instead.
I quite like a game of Scrabble every now and again, and when I got myself a DS Lite I decided it was a must-have addition to my newly formed games collection. I got it from Argos as part of a 2 for £30 deal, though I now see that quite a few shops have it on sale for only £10 including Play.com and Asda.
Getting to grips with this game took a matter of minutes. I got straight into playing my first game of Scrabble against the computer players, and was able to work out most of controls immediately. I really love how easy it is to play this game. To lay down a word on the board, I just have to select my letter and drag it onto the square I want it to go on, using the stylus. It makes it feel pretty close to the movements I might be using if I was playing Scrabble 'in the flesh'.
Aside from playing games against the computer in the standard Scrabble format, I also had a go at the little campaign that's included. I have to say that this is where the game loses a star for me. The campaign version has a boring little story that is basically being used to give a tutorial on how to play the game. This is handy for teenagers who are just starting to play, but aren't yet sure of the tricks of the game. But perhaps they need to make it clear that this is more of a tutorial than a game so that older players don't waste their time on it!
The opponents on this are pretty alright, though I think I would have preferred a bigger selection or a 'select random opponent' option. I have beaten all of them lots of times, even Esme who is the hardest opponent (though I have only beaten her a few times I have to admit!). Once you know the tricks behind playing Scrabble, it becomes a game of chance. For that reason, there needs to be more variety here to keep the game interesting.
There are some mini games on here that do give an element of variety, but none of them are very good. There's a Texas Hold Em game, a few repetitive anagram games, and a kind of path-words game which is too easy for words! I won't go into details about any of them because they're all clearly games which were shoved on there at the end of production, to give the product the illusion of having some depth and variety.
I love this game for the actual Scrabble main game, and I think this is extremely easy to use. But for the price there needs to be more on here really. I think they could have done with teaming this game up with another popular board game like Monopoly or Cluedo to justify the price tag.
This review is of the Nintendo game, Scrabble 2009, developed and published by Electronic Arts. The game is based on the board game of the same name, and this is a different version to Scrabble 2007, which was developed and published by Ubisoft.
This DS game of course follows the traditional board game, where you have to place down tiles, each with a different letter on, to make words to score as many points as possible. Different areas of the board are worth different points, as are different tiles, so more complex and longer words tend to get more points.
If you just want to play the traditional version of Scrabble on this game, then you can. You can either play as a one-off match against the console, or you can play in the story mode, where the challenges against the console get ever more difficult and you learn about the game of scrabble, and go from local competitions to international competitions. This story mode is quite quick to play through, and is really best for newer players to the game.
There are three different difficulty levels in the game, but it should be noted that playing against the console's AI at a higher level is very difficult indeed. The console does know a lot of words and plays them happily, so at times it can feel that you can never win against such a strong player. However, the range of difficulty levels does mean that you are able to play the game which suits your own ability.
You can also play with a friend if you prefer, which saves time setting the board game version up! You can't however play in the two player mode on the same DS, which seems an omission, and you do have to have two Nintendo DSs. Indeed, it's such an omission that in my view the game plummets from being very good, to being poor.
With regards to this omission, there is no reason why two players can't play on the same console, and it's a feature that players would likely expect. On the plus side however, you do only require one version of the game to be able to play on two DSs, so if your kids want to play, this is fine, as long as you own two consoles.
In addition to playing in the traditional format, you are also able to play a series of mini games which are available. These are quite fun, and do add an additional dimension to the game as a whole. These include a poker type game, but using Scrabble tiles, an anagram game and a word game where you have to makes as many words as possible from a random block of letters.
The game retails at 19.99 pounds, but is currently available from Amazon for half price, 9.99 pounds. If you're happy with a second hand copy, these are available on sites such as eBay and Amazon, but at the time of writing, they're only slightly cheaper than a new copy. Bizarrely, the game is rated as 12+, so is suitable only for older children.
In summary, this is unnecessarily disappointing, as if you have Scrabble 2007, there's not much here that you're likely to want to upgrade to. The omission of the two player mode on the same Nintendo DS is illogical and disappointing, and takes the shine off the game. However, if you're happy with the omission of this feature and want a game of scrabble, with some fun mini-games to distract you, then this is a good and well presented game.
I enjoy playing Scrabble and other word games and I have previously owned the 2007 DS version of this popular board game, so when the 2009 edition was released boasting an updated format, enhanced AI and dictionary and fun new mini-games I just had to buy it.
Once you have signed in and created your profile you are offered a choice of games to play:
Scrabble Quick Game - This is sub divided into three mini games:
The Classic quick game puts you in direct competition with up to three AI opponents of your choosing who have different Scrabble playing ability.
The Tempest option introduces special cards which modify game play, for example cards which instruct you to only make a word of containing three letters.
The Duplicate game option is a variation that removes the element of chance caused by separate draws. This basically means that all players have the same rack of tiles and the word deemed best by the arbiter is the one which goes on the board.
My main criticism in the quick game has to be that the tougher AI opponents are practically impossible to beat. I don't think it's just me being a bit thick or being a bad loser but I always seem to get a disproportionate number of rubbish tiles at this level where the AI opponent has enough variety to clear the rack and pick up the 50 point bonus every time. Some might say that this presents a challenge, I say that after several attempts it is disheartening and off-putting.
In Campaign mode you can enter a single player game in which you progress through a kind of pointless unimaginative story where you begin playing games against opponents in local low key competitions and gradually work your way up to prestigious international contests, I felt that this mode is really only suitable for beginners.
The Other Games Option contains four further mini-games which are quite fun and will pass a spare five minutes:
Anagrams - create all possible anagrams from a single draw.
Escaletters - create a series of words by adding letters
Puzzletters - Link adjacent letters to make as many words as possible before the time runs out
Scrabble Hold 'em - Poker meets Scrabble, bet against you opponent on the best word you can make.
You can play against a friend on the same DS console by creating a second player profile or a wireless multiplayer option is available.
In the settings menu, there is the opportunity to change the appearance of the board, the wallpaper, sound effects and the music. I recommend muting the music because it is repetitive, irritating and nauseating. The high score table lets you view the progress you have made.
In my opinion, if you have already got the 2007 version, keep it and don't waste your money on this edition thinking it is better because it is not. I guarantee that once you have ploughed through the campaign, you won't bother again and you will just end up playing the classic game until Esme (the clever AI opponent) frustrates you so much you give up and move on to something else. If you are new to Scrabble for the DS, then I suggest you buy the 2007 version if you can still get hold of it, if not, wait until this falls below £10 because in my opinion, that is all it is worth.