Scrabble fiends are the worst. They want their Scrabble. They need their Scrabble. And if they don’t get it they need an adequate substitute. Android had been lacking in the crossword-based game arena for some time until recently. There was no official app filling the crossword game void…sort of. Scrabble has an app you see, but they don’t sell it. Why you may ask? Well I ask that too. Who knows. Rumor has it it was available on EA Mobileat one point in time (as is the iPhone Scrabble app) but that is no longer the case. I was wondering what was the deal. Then one day a friend of mine lent me his copy of Scrabble for Android and I had to wonder to more.
Let’s skip ahead a bit to present day.
Polyclef Software has released WordWise Pro , a crossword type game almost identical to Scrabble. Note the almost part there. There are a few changes from the game we know and love. WordWise Pro is a great replacement for those that love the head-to-head competition of Scrabble. It lets you invite your friends to a game via email (they must be registered to play) or you can just invite a random Scrabble guru with a word app at the ready for your foolish challenge. When you are invited to a game you receive an email informing you that you have a competitor. Likewise email notification is sent when it is your turn to play your tiles in a game. This is where WordWise Pro excels, head-to-head play, one on one. Unfortunately that’s about it.
[Note: the game didn’t like the screencap utility which caused the game load screens to appear in the screen caps]
As far as game play is concerned I found the navigation and controls of WordWise Pro to be quite clunky. First you must log into the game servers which seems to take much longer than it should. Then occasionally it prompts for a “captcha”-style verification (which I’m not sure why that is necessary for a game, God forbid someone hacks you and takes over your Scrabble game). Loading into the menu for game selection seems quite slow as well considering the buttons and options are rather bland. Once you are in a game any options you want to select must come from a generic looking pop-up menu by pressing the options key. Playing letter tiles is about the only thing you can do without going into the menu. You must open the menu even to submit a word.
Another thing thing I also didn’t like was how you select a tile and place it on the board. Zoomed out the board is just too small for decent accuracy. Zooming in is, well, less than stellar. You have to double click to zoom in on the board, but you can’t be slow about it. It must be very quick or it won’t zoom at all. Once zoomed in there is no way to move around the board. No click and drag and no pinch-to-zoom.
Lastly there are a few game differences from the classic Scrabble. You’ll notice that the board tiles are a bit off. You won’t find the triple word scores exactly in the corners, or in the north, south, east, west positions. that’s not a big deal really but for purists it’s a bit weird. The other difference I noticed is that blank tiles score points. One point per blank tile from the best that I can tell.
Even though I’ve talked it down, WordWise Pro is still a good ol’ Scrabble game at heart. It’s not the cleanest execution but it certainly gets the job done. It’ll cost you 99 cents in the market and if you like head-to-head play it is well worth it, not to mention it’s about the only internet head-to-head option you’ll find in the market.
Now this is all fine and dandy but lets go back to that Scrabble game my friend gave me.
If you peered your glossy little eyes on the (un)official Scrabble game before ever touching WordWise Pro then you too would understand my gripes. It is glossy. It is polished. It is animated. It is smooth. It is pretty. It is SCRABBLE®. Scrabble has all the controls you need right under your tiles making for smooth gameplay. These controls include: a “Shuffle” button that shuffles your tile order for those brain-cramping moments and a “Best Word” button which is useful for beginners or if you just can’t find a word. Using the “Best Word” button will give you the best playable word in your hand; you get three per game. Another fun control is shuffling by shaking your Android phone. A quick jostle will move your tiles around.
So other than being unreleased what is the catch? Yeah there it is: no networked head-to-head gameplay. The game will let you play head-to-head, but only by passing your handset back and forth between your opponent. Other than that, I have found the computer Scrabble bot to be quite a worthy adversary. On the hard difficulty he is damned near impossible to beat for the average player (me). Scrabble also includes several game styles in the options: Classic, 75-point, 150-point, 8 round and 12 round.
I know what you’re thinking…”Awesome! Where can I get it?” Well, I can’t give it to you. It is not officially released. Let’s just say Uncle Google knows where to find it. Try searching for an .apk. Let’s hope EA and Hasbro release it officially for purchase in the market.
If I have to rate the two games I’d give Scrabble four out of five tiles. WordWise Pro gets three. A good side note is that WordWise is a fairly new app and it’s sure to get some improvements.