Computer Scrabble logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

APART from chess, converted board games don't usually sit very happily on the home computer, partly due to the difficulties of squeezing the playing baord and other game paraphernalia on to a small screen and partly due to the problems of getting the computer to perform as a worthy opponent. Scrabble De Luxe is a notable exception.

Although Scrabble has appeared on a number of other micros, there is no doubt that the game board and pieces have never been better displayed than in the Amiga version. Board and tiles are large, clear and pleasant to look at - no squinting or reaching for the magnifying glass.

Two to four players, human or computer-controlled, can participate and any computer opponent can be given one of eight skill levels. The computer makes a tough opponent, having at its disposal a built-in dictionary of around 24,000 words.

At lower skill levels, it is programmed to achieve around 150 points in a two-player game and will only access a sub-set of its dictionary. At the higher levels, it will search the whole dictionary and is tuned to reach an average of over 300 points.

Players can progress without any time limit, but you can make life harder for your opponents by setting the clock option. This will restrict the time allowed for each move, between 30 seconds to five minutes - the snag is that the limit also applies to you. When your time is almost up, the clock starts flashing an alert. There is no audible warning - indeed, there is no sound at all in this version.

You may elect to view the computer's thought process: This lets you see the word, value and possible position on the board currently under consideration by the computer.

At your discretion, the tile racks on the right hand side of the screen may be hidden so that only the current player's main rack will be displayed at the bottom of the screen. In this case, other players must avert their eyes - another drawback to converted boar games.

Options available during the game from pop-down menus - and, in a few cases, by keyboard command - include being able to obtain a hint from the computer, pass your turn by, juggle the letters in your rack, change tiles, force the computer to move , and display the tile distribution and the values of the tile set and premium squares.

One good feature is that uncompleted games can be saved for later resumption, but it is a pity that saves always have to be to the program disc: Try removing it during play and replacing it with a blank for saved games and the program crashes with an error.

Two other small criticisms of what is otherwise an excellent conversion: The mouse pointer seemed a mite sluggish for my taste and the options to see the computer thinking, hide the racks, set the clock on and off and change skill levels are only available at the start of a game and cannot be altered once you've begun.

The computer plays a mean game, particularly on the higher levels. I never knew there were such words as qua, zatis, zoeae, govim and filet. There is no doubt that the game's finest feature is the huge vocabulary of two to four letter words - and their extensions - and the program's speed of response.

Scrabble De Luxe is an attractively presented and stimulating program. Any word game aficionado will return to time after time. Playing a tough, ever-ready, artificially intelligent opponent is a pleasure and who knows - you just might end being more literate into the bargain. Now of how many programs can you say that?

Computer Scrabble logo

Lang, lang ist's her, da veröffentlichte Leisure Genius eine Computerversion des beliebten Brettspiels "Scrabble". Leider hatte das Wort-Puzzle einen enscheidenden Nachteil: Es funktionierte nur in englisch. Vorbei und vergessen, jetzt wird in deutsch gescrabbelt.

Die Regeln im Schnell-durchlauf: Zwei bis vier Spieler legen mit Buchstaben-Steinchen Wörter ab. Alle Buchstaben haben einen Wert, der durch das Belegen bestimmter Felder noch gesteigert werden kann. Im Kreuzworträtsel-Stil darf jeder anlegen, wo es gerade paßt - wer die meisten Punkte einheimst, hat gewonnen.

So funktioniert's am Brett, und so funktioniert's auch hier. Nur mit dem Unterschied, daß man am Screen auch solo (also gegen den Computer) antreten kann.

Gespielt wird mit Maus und Tastatur, was flott und exakt von der Hand geht. Auch grafisch ist der Buchstabensalat recht ansprechend, jedenfalls soweit man das von einem solchen Spiel erwarten kann: Alles ist übersichtlich und gut erkennbar.

Lediglich auf Sounduntermalung muß man verzichten, aber was soll's? Viel wichtiger ist doch, daß das elektronische Wörterbuch einen ordentlichen Umfang hat, und tatsächlich versteht das Programm ziemlich viel. Sollte dem Rechner doch mal ein Wort spanisch vorkommen, fragt er beim Spieler nach, anstatt darauf zu pochen, daß es annulliert wird. Wer gern schummelt, kann das also machen - aber wo bleibt dann der Sinn der Übung?:

Insgesamt ist Computer Scrabble eine sehr solide Brettspielumsetzung, deren einzige Schwäche im Konzept liegt. Am meisten Spaß mach Scrabble nämlich immer noch ohne Computer... (jn)

Computer Scrabble logo

Leisure Genius, £19.95 disk, mouse with keys

A bedroom somewhere in the world...

Player one: 'There's no such word as pyx.'
Player two: 'Yes there is, I've seen it.'
Player one: 'Well let's look it up then.'
Player one scrabbles through a dictionary.
Player one: 'Here. A pyx is a chest in which coins from the British mint are weighted. Now that's on a triple word so that's 54 points.'

Player two beats player one senseless with the dictionary.

If this means nothing to you then you've probably never played Scrabble, a game which causes more arguments than Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly put together! This new release from Leisure Genius contains all the elements of the original board game.

It opens by presenting a series of options menus, allowing you to set the number of players, the time limit and whether to see the tiles and the computer thinking. The board is then drawn and the play begins.

You must enter a word on the keyboard and select whether it should go across or down. The start point is clicked on with the mouse and the word placed on the board. You can decide at this point to reject the word and enter a new one if the score is below what you expected. Play continues thus until all the tiles are drawn or there are no more spaces for words.

Various other options are included, such as 'hints' from the computer, the ability to juggle the letters in your rack and an option to replace some or all of the letters in your rack.

Gordon Houghton Scrabble is rather a tame idea for a computer game in today's fast-paced market, but an old classic is always worth a try. Board and tiles are very well displayed, and are as functional as their physical equivalents, once familiarity has been gained. The options menu adds a lot to the game - hints and tile reshuffles are a great help if you're stuck for a word. The viability of purchase is dependent on whether you like board games; if you do (like me), you'll love this conversion. If not, forget it.
Paul Glancey For years all Scrabble has meant to me is boring Sunday afternoons visiting relatives, when they decide to get the old games out after Antiques Roadshow has finished. For this reason (not to mention the poor reception the other versions were given) I wonder about how wise it is to release an Amiga version. I suppose that putting it onto the Amiga enables more words to be stored in the memory, but the subject matter doesn't really allow the programmers to stretch the machine to its limits. If it had animated figures playing the game and digitised speech, maybe, but then that would be just plain silly. What we're offered is simply a standard Scrabble game with nice presentation: nothing more, nothing less.