Scrabble is perhaps the most iconic crossword board game in history and it has spawned countless clones but for many, the original will always be the best. It’s surprising that Scrabble has taken so long to release a smartphone/tablet edition with online multiplayer, it’s been almost 3 years since Words With Friends did so and it’s almost overshadowed the Scrabble brand entirely in that time. While you have been able to play Scrabble on your iPad from day one, its only with the latest update that both online play and Game Center have been added.
The first noticeable change after the update are the graphics, it’s now displayed with HD and the design has been given a facelift, it all looks crisp and clear but the change isn’t drastic. If you find it a little too much you can change it back to a more nostalgic look in the options, I found however that I liked the new look. All the menus have been streamlined to better suit the touch screen interface and the board now rotates so you can play in portrait mode.
The music is quite relaxing, almost classical, it helps you to relax and concentrate and it really contributes to the mood of the game. Sound effects are designed to resemble the real sounds of the board games, the little things like the clacking as you rearrange the tiles on your rack, or place them on the board, it wouldn’t surprise me if these were recorded sounds from a boxed version.
There is a built in dictionary, if you have a word but need to check he spelling just type it into the search and it will tell you if the word is accepted. Opening the dictionary tab also gives you a full list of valid 2 letter words, if nothing else, you need to know these, they greatly increase your scoring potential. After you’ve played you can hit the Teacher button which will show you how you could have used your tiles better, this is by no means a cheat as it can only be accessed after you’ve played but it does however give you an opportunity to increase your vocabulary.
You can connect with both your Facebook account and with the Origin network, but surprisingly, not with your Game Center friends which I felt was an opportunity wasted, it seems a little pointless to have GC integration but not use any of its benefits. If you’re having trouble finding opponents you can also match up with a random opponent, and it matches you up based on your ELO rating, you start out with a rating of 1200 and a win will increase it, losing decrease, how much depends on your ELO rating and your opponents, it’s not perfect but it does increase the chance of you matching up with a player of comparable skill. Unfortunately, you can only play 1-1, it would be nice to set up a 3 or 4 player game with your friends. While waiting for your turn you can still play a game against the computer, here you can play 2-4 players and even adjust the difficulty of each AI opponent individually. Playing against the computer though will not affect your ELO rating. For competitive enthusiasts, you can have up to 50 games going at time.
There are a few bugs and glitches but that’s to be expected at this stage of development, the occasional force close and trouble updating games, iv found that games don’t always update automatically either. I expect these will be sorted out quite quickly in future updates, and hopefully some other things like better use of Game Center and hopefully (fingers crossed) 3 and 4 player games. Otherwise, this is an impressive app, with some really good ideas.
Is Scrabble good enough to reclaim its popularity? I believe so but it may be some time before it gains a big enough following to tackle Words With Friends for the top spot and it still needs a little love from the developers but it does have some great advantages over other crossword board games and it looks great. It would also be nice to have a few achievements, but as is, still worth 4 stars and I hope some great updates come soon.