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Scrabble DeLuxe
by Sentient Software Ltd: John Mullins
Leisure Genius
1987
Crash Issue 47, December 1987   (1987-11-26)   page(s) 13

'If you're not into wordgames there's no way you'll go for this, but there is a mental challenge which makes it worth considering.'
MIKE ... 75%

'This is one of the most mathematically clever games I've played in a long time - if you don't believe me try putting the computer in a really difficult position and see how fast it gets out of it! The memory used must be immense (even on a 128) - every word you can think of is there. Even when playing the computer at very low levels the HELP option comes in useful and is surprisingly fast. Still, I would have thought computer Scrabble De Luxe could have a few more than two colours on the screen. It's the ideal game to keep everyone quiet over the Christmas period - and the best thing about it is that everyone can play at their own level.'
PAUL ... 73%

'First came the fantastic board game, then the not-so-fantastic (though nicely-presented and colourful) Spectrum game from Psion, and now Scrabble De Luxe is just another version of the board game. There's hardly any colour and what there is is very dull; the controls are confusing, too.'
NICK ... 37%


This is the 128K version of Psion's 48K Scrabble - released before CRASH appeared, but covered in Lloyd Mangram's Issue Four Living Guide!

Scrabble De Luxe is based very closely on the board game, where players pick letters at random and try to form words with them, earning extra points for using difficult letters.

In this Spectrum version, two, three or four can play, each starting off with seven letters displayed in a rack. With these, the players have to form words vertically or horizontally on the Scrabble board.

The chosen word is typed, and the cursor positions it on the board. When a word is in position its score is calculated, but if it's not in the computer's 20,000-word vocabulary, that turn is challenged. This challenge can be accepted by the player, in which case the turn and its score are lost.

But if the player rejects the challenge, the computer accepts the word, and any other word generated from it.

As in the board game, there's a set score for each letter, and the score for a word is the total for all the letters. However, placing letters on certain squares on the grid boosts the player's score.

The computer can help each player by suggesting words which can be made with a player's selection of letters, and can also point out where they would fit on the grid.

And you can choose to play against the computer itself. Its thinking process can be called up on screen, so that the human player is not totally out of depth in taking on the electronic megabrain.

COMMENTS
Joystick: Cursor
Graphics: monochromatic
Sound: virtually none
Options: eight skill levels, with the computer using more obscure words at higher levels

Presentation64%
Graphics45%
Playability65%
Addictiveness61%
Overall62%
Summary: General Rating: Well, it's Scrabble...

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 6, March 1988   page(s) 68

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 onginal 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.




PICTURE TEXT

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

/PICTURE TEXT


OverallNot Rated
Transcript by Chris Bourne

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