Scrabble for iPad – review

EA attempt the seemingly impossible… create a faithful reproduction of one of the most beloved board games of all time.

Much like games such as Tic Tac Toe (or Noughts and Crosses in the UK), Scrabble is one of those games that seems like it’s been around forever. A mainstay of many a family get together, where soon enough the game is removed from it’s cupboard-under-the-stairs resting place and set up on the dining room table amongst festive roast lunch remains.

For those who have never played it – and you might want to think about moving out from under that rock – here’s a Wiki description; “Scrabble is a word game in which two to four players score points by forming words from individual lettered tiles on a game board marked with a 15-by-15 grid. The words are formed across and down in crossword fashion and must appear in a standard dictionary.” If you want to know more about the fundamentals of the game then you can visit here, as I will not be reviewing this classic game, and instead looking at how it translates to the iPad.

scrabble1For me I couldn’t see how they could do it justice. Such a simple game could be easily be given the overworked experience so many other board games on PC and consoles can suffer from… where sometimes what makes the game so appealing in the first place can be lost under gimmicks and graphics, where instead sometimes the simplest touch is all you need.

Thank god then that EA have opted to take the core gameplay and just ensure that the original experience is replicated fully, and in some cases bettered. Yes there is the odd gimmick, but they don’t take away from the game, instead creating a new way to enjoy it.

But, lets start with the basics. Jump into the game and hit ‘play now’, and whether you play it portrait or landscape, the board appears before you and you are ready to scrabble. This solo experience pits you against a computer player with various difficulty settings available. Below the board is your tile rack, showing you your seven starting letter tiles. Just like real world Scrabble you can grab them and shuffle them around to help conjure words in your head, or with a quick tap the game will shuffle them for you (a pretty handy, yet simple feature). If the letters aren’t playing ball, you can swap them with random tiles from the title bag, but as you know you will miss a turn.

Placing the tiles is a simple task of sliding your desired tile onto the game board, where they drop in place with a satisfactory snap. Once you are happy with your selection, you hit play and the game calculates your score and checks if the word is correct. A press of the recall button sucks them back to your rack should you change your mind or if the word doesn’t exist.

For people who are curious minded, or just downright cheats, there is a Best Word option. When pressed this feature calculates the best possible word that you can make with your tiles on the board. Yes it is cheating, but it’s a good way to learn too… especially for beginners.

Of course the best way to experience the game is with friends, and Scrabble for iPad gives you a multitude of options for doing just that. If you have people in the same room then you can play Pass ‘n play. This sees you simply passing the the game around to the player who’s turn it is. Of course the downside to this is you cannot see and arrange you tiles while not in play, meaning you cannot set up your next turn.

scrabble2The other option is Local network play, where you can connect up with other iPads and iPods and play over Wifi or Bluetooth, this is the better solution of the two, if of course you have the required amount of devices. There is one other mode for same room multiplayer, and it’s pretty mind blowing, and that’s Party Play.

Party Play requires 2-4 iPhones or iPod Touches, and after a free download of the Scrabble Tile rack App, your device becomes the tile rack. That’s right, as you play you can hold your tiles out of sight of everyone else, arrange your next move by shuffling tiles on your iPhone screen, and then when it’s your turn you magically flick your tiles from your iPhone screen to the iPad on the table. Not only that but if you are all positioned around the iPad, you can rotate the board on the iPad remotely from your iPhone. It’s tres cool and really good for showing off and being all minority-report-like.

Finally, should you find yourself all on your tod, you can hook up to Facebook and play both friends, and strangers… and if so inclined, partake in up to 25 games at once.

Where Scrabble for iPad no doubt out witts the original though is with its portability. Just the other day my mum and sister were travelling to Europe and they picked up a travel Scrabble pack… Low and behold, and despite being magnetic, soon enough they had lost a tile or two, something that just won’t happen with Scrabble for iPad.

The other and perhaps more important addition is the auto dictionary, no longer will you argue with friends or siblings over whether ZYMURGY is a real word (it is!). The game simply checks all words as you play, and of course adds up the scores for you.

These great features, and the added value of the various multiplayer options makes Scrabble for iPad a glorious achievement in digital board games. At $9.99 it’s at the higher end of the AppStore pricing, but for me it’s easily worth it… not to mention that the board won’t get dog eared and you won’t lose any tiles!

Scrabble for iPad is out now for $9.99. Get it on SCRABBLE



Also available for iPhone and iPod Touch for $4.99. Get it on SCRABBLE

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  • Oksi

    Nice review! What is the difference between this game and Words With Friends?

  • Flatware Sets ·

    me and my brothers would always love to play scrabble every weekend, ::

  • Pmaximo

    The dictionary is a peculiar example of misguided and laughable American christian prudishness and what seems to be an ignorance of the meaning of words.

  • Paris 001

    Yes, the dreadful Yankees have once again soiled the glorious bounty to which all loyal subjects of the empire are justly entitled. I think we should all play this glorious staple of family entertainment on our Tea-pads and Tea-phones, wot.

    Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I should like to point out (while I gorge my corpulant American face on a massive cheeseburger) that Scrabble was invented in the US, and that the game is published by an American software developer based on an American license of the scrabble IP. It is published for ios, for use on an American-engineered computer product which is manufactured in China.

    The in-game dictionary is the official scrabble word list. There have been controversies over the years about the inclusion of non-family friendly words, but that’s been 30 years running. I can see how the scrabble tournament folks wouldn’t want someone to drop “colossalniggerdildobuttlove” for the win on a televised match.

    But, yes — clearly the American Christians control the scrabble players association and their love of poor spelling and jealously over her majesty’s August empire are clearly unacceptable.

  • Englishasprilla

    So according to this game, ‘Rape’ is not a valid word. For one thing, it’s the name of a plant (rape seed oil, anyone?). Utterly ridiculous. Terrible, terrible app.