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For: Mobile

Test your word-play skills against your mobile (but resist the urge to cheat!)

Product: Scrabble | Publisher: EA Mobile | Format: Mobile | Genre: Card/ board game, Casual | Players: 1 | Networking: on one device | File size: 277KB | Reviewed on: N70 other handsets | Version: Europe
Scrabble Mobile, thumbnail 1
Board games seem to work well on mobile phones, judging by the success of Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.

Maybe it's the familiar brands and gameplay, or the turn-based gameplay mechanic that suits the phone so well. Or maybe it's just the chance to play without worrying that your opponent is sitting on £5,000 or three cheeses in a nefarious effort to cheat.

Not that we'd consider that kind of scurvy behaviour. Not unless we were playing against family, obviously.

Scrabble is a new mobile version of the quixotic board game that lets you test your word skills and highjack opponents with your squeezy tactics in whizbang fashion, even if it's not as much fun as a popquiz. (That last sentence might not make sense, but you don't want know how many points the bold words would've made me, if played across the right bonus squares. Yes, they're all legal...)

The game has been out on mobile before, but this Scrabble is an all-new revamped version. And it's an impressive one too. It's Scrabble as you know and love it, with options to play against your mobile, solo, or a pass'n'play mode to compete against friends by passing round your handset.

That said, we retain doubts about this latter option. After all, if you're at home with some friends, why not play real Scrabble? And if you're down the pub, shouldn't you be doing something other than playing a mobile board game? Maybe we're just killjoys though.

The game is certainly well-presented. The whole Scrabble board is squeezed onto the screen, with your letters at the bottom. You move a cursor around the board to decide where to place them, and can press the '7' key at any time to zoom in if you need a reminder of what colour squares are double and triple letter or word bonuses.

The Versus Computer mode presents a tough challenge, with three difficulty levels: Easy, Medium and Hard. Be warned, 'Hard' really means 'Scrabble Ninja', with an opponent who knows all the professional tricks, like laying words in parallel to others to rack up two-letter-word bonuses, and has a vocabulary to die for.

Variety comes in the shape of an option to play 'classic' Scrabble (you play until all the tiles are on the board), first to 75 or 150 points, or eight or 12 rounds. All in all, it's everything a Scrabbler could want, whether you're casual or hardcore when it comes to your alphabet-based board games.

There is one rather large quirk, however. If you're clever enough to enter a seven-letter word, a message pops up saying "We cannot validate words longer than six characters. Do you still want to use this word?". Select 'Yes', and onto the board it goes.

In a pass'n'play game, this lets you argue the toss as you would in a real match, or even consult a dictionary if you have one to hand. But when playing against the mobile, it's left to your honesty to decide, leaving a powerful temptation to cheat. At least until you later look at the Statistics screen and realise that your highest-ever scoring word was, ahem, ENCLAZKA.

This quirk doesn't spoil the game, by any means, but we'd hope future versions might be able to connect to an online Scrabble dictionary to cover seven letter words and up.

Nevertheless, in all other respects this is an accurate and polished mobile version of Scrabble, which will keep wordy types happily engaged.
Reviewer photo
Stuart Dredge | 19 October 2006
A Scrabble that struggles with long words? Well, yes, but it's otherwise a multifarious incarnation.
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