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1983
Board Game
£15.95
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

Other Links


68
Chris Bourne

Spectrum, £9.95cs
CPC, £9.95cs, £14.95dk
C64/128, £12.95cs, £14.95dk
MAX, £9.95cs

Psion caused quite a sensation with their first version of computer Scrabble for the Spectrum. It appeared just over three years ago and was remarkable for squeezing an 11,000 word dictionary into the 48K machine, together with a high degree of intelligence. As a result, many players discovered that Scrabble, like Chess, is a game that can be very satisfactorily played against a computer opponent.

Fings ain't wot they used to be, of course, and now Scrabble is available from a different company - Leisure Genius (owned by Virgin) - and for additional machines. The original Psion version is still sold for the Spectrum, again by Leisure Genius, and there are also faithful conversions for most other formats. Notable exceptions are the ST and the Amiga, but we're promised an ST version for February this year.

Playing Scrabble against a machine has certain advantages. To start with, you can be sure that the machine won't cheat. The words it chooses are in its vocabulary (which has been checked by an 'official Scrabble expert'), not in its imagination. If you cheat, entering a word that's not on the computer's list will cause it to challenge you - but simply reaffirming your decision will get it to back down. Cheating, therefore, is a matter for your own conscience and not the computer's adjudication.

To complicate matters, Leisure Genius have also released Scrabble Deluxe. This offers a vocabulary ranging from just under 20,000 words on the Commodore to just over 23,000 on the PC. In addition, the number of skill levels has been increased from four to eight - a significant improvement since it enables you to match your own skills more accurately against your computer opponent.

The Deluxe version also has a game-clock for timed play and an improved algorithm that speeds up the 'thinking time' for computer players at high skill levels. You should definitely pay the extra for this later version - in fact on the Commodore it's the same price, so no excuses.

All versions allow up to four players, of whom any number can be computer controlled. Various game-play options include shuffling the letters on your rack (helps to spot possible words) and asking for hints. All normal play conventions are supported.

One thing you will need, however, is a pencil and paper if playing with other humans - so you can jot down the letters on your rack before removing them from the screen display. You can choose to have all racks on permanent display, but this makes cheating rather easier and can be particularly serious at the end of a game when you're deciding whether to go out or hang on in the chance of getting that Q onto a triple-letter-score square.

Along with chess, Scrabble is one game that converts excellently to computerised play. Fans of the game can at last play without having to seek out other addicts, and cheats can win every time.




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Scrabble on the Spectrum - there's little difference between the formats, but this one remains on of the most impressive.

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Not Rated

Screenshot Text

Scrabble on the Spectrum - there's little difference between the formats, but this one remains on of the most impressive.