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What's this all about?
When did knowing your ABC's become so important to gamers? It did when the powers that be wanted to translate Scrabble to the Playstation. So in the tradition of Monopoly and Life, Hasbro now introduces another board game classic.
For those of you that don't know what is Scrabble, it is a hybrid of crossword mentality, positional strategy, and a true test of your language mastery. You start with a board that serves for the placement for letter tiles. On the board there are specific squares that when used can add to your score dramatically. These premium squares can double or triple letter values. Hell, some of these squares can even double or triple your word scores! You must position yourself to grab the squares and block your opponent from spelling out a "killer" word.
In addition each contestant will receive a rack where they get seven random letter tiles. Each tile has a number value that correlates with the level of difficulty from the letter displayed. Vowels are worth only one point, but letters like Q and Z are worth 10 points. Along with letter tiles are two blank tiles. These tiles can used as any letter. Even though they don't have any value they are important in completing words where you are just missing that one letter.
So without being anymore verbose let me continue with this review so you can pontificate for your own opinion (Yeah I just got done playing, can you tell?).
Sound and Vision:
There isn't much as far as sound effects go, but then again this is a board game translation so any sound is a plus. When you select an option or switch between screens a default beep is used to let you know your command has been picked up. When the letters are place on the board different sounds come through depending on what you are doing with the letter tile. The background music is something out of an elevator's greatest hits album so there isn't much chance you will be jamming to these tunes while playing. But then again this is a thinking game. The music will do, but I wish there were a smoother transition between the tunes and the sounds because sometimes that will disrupt my thinking.
Graphically the game was adequate but then I really can't think of what else you could do for a board game layout as simple as the one in Scrabble. You don't want flashing lights or anything that will distract the task at hand. The board is a true translation of the original game board right down to the basic color scheme. The tiles are clear and easy to read and you also have the option of changing the look of the them, but the original tiles with their faux wood grain appearance did the job just fine. You are able to zoom in and out to see the board better and thankfully nothing was lost when you zoomed out to see more of the playing field as it gets filled with words.
The game is similar to the real board game. The only difference is that other players can see your letters so you had better hope that if you have the letter Q that other players won't be stingy with their U's (kind of frustrating and unfair). During game play you are able to exchange your tiles, but you will lose your turn. You can also look at the remaining tiles so you won't be waiting for a letter that is no longer available.
For those of you that are unaware of this game, Scrabble is basically the ultimate interactive word spelling game. Players get seven "tiles" with a letter on each, that they use to spell out words by placing the letters on the game board. Each letter is assigned a certain amount of points. For example: vowels are all worth 1 point, whereas some of the harder letters used to make words like the "Q" is worth ten points. The other letters fall somewhere in between as far as points go. Some spaces on the board will give player's double or triple letter scores and some spaces will give double of triple word scores. The strategy is to use the board to your advantage and spell out the words that will yield the highest score, all while trying to not leave letters that your opponent can use to make their own words.
Before really starting though you will notice that there are plenty of options to customize your game and set things up the way you like but the ultimate "option" is selected during the actual gameplay. This is called the Guides option, which I will fondly refer to as the cheating option. Nestled in this little menu of trick you will find all sorts of goodies. For players who think there is no possible word that can be created there is the hint option. This shows the words available with point values to the right. Trust me, some of the words that the computer comes up with I would never have believed or thought to be used in the English language. It also comes with a dictionary and an option that shows if your word will be a valid choice. For new players this particular menu section is a valuable tool.
There are also variations of the game you can play. You can play a normal game with two, three or four people and if you want to play alone there is the solitaire option. And finally there is tournament play, which also accommodates up to 4 people. Here you play three games and a cumulative score determines the winner. You can also choose mix other human players and have computer AI as opponents for fill out the rest. The artificial intelligence has a varying degree of difficulty that you can select. The 8 AI settings are Novice, Beginner, Intermediate (my level), Advanced, Expert, Champion, Master, and Grand Master (impossible).
As with the board game, Scrabble is fun with other players and you have the advantage of not having to set everything. The game speed can also be quickened with the fast AI setting just try that on the board game! My only complaint as far as game play comes when the AI passes on a turn. When the game is winding down and the computer decides to pass, there is an exurbanite amount of time telling you this and it detracts from the otherwise decent game play.
This is a 1 disk game for 1 to 4 Players and works with the Multi-tap peripheral. It is compatible with the standard (digital) joypad and the analog stick controls of the dual shock joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).
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