Setup & Timing
Scrabble is easy to navigate, and is (in part) aimed at gamers who may be playing a Nintendo DS system for the first time. Once the main menu is reached, "Multiplayer" is the second option from the top and "DS Download Play" is its own option therein. The opening credits aren't ridiculously long, and the download time is better than average.
Menus & Navigation
The options on the menu screens are big enough to tap, spaced well enough to tap what is being aimed for, and labeled well enough to read. They menus aren't extravagant, but they meet all of the basic needs.
Ease Of Use / Play Control
The interface for Scrabble couldn't have been designed for easier use. Drag a tile to a spot on the board. One tap tile shuffling. One tap tile recall (from the board to your hand, before the word is submitted). Double-tap zoom and moving by dragging the board around are also present for easy motion around the board. All of it is simple and intuitive. On the other hand, several small, annoying glitches can get in the way. Sometimes a tile won't place where it's supposed to go, but this is remedied by picking it up and replacing it in the correct space. Double-tapping can sometimes be taking as input when a double-tap wasn't intended, and this is normally not a problem (except when it causes a player to accidentally pass on their turn). In Scrabble Slam, tapping on the cards causes lots of blinking (not a problem) and double-tapping -- an alternate way to flip a single card -- is nearly impossible (but the primary way to flip a card, the "Flip Card" button, works fine). They're small glitches, but they're still annoying. With the exception of those three small glitches, however, everything else is flawless.
Category Score: 11.5 / 15
In addition to the expected Classic Scrabble game, there are two variants available via Single-Card Download. Speed Scrabble is very similar to Classic Scrabble, but with each player having an overall time limit that they must complete all of their moves for the game within. Slam Scrabble is very different - it's practically a different game altogether. A four letter word is displayed and players speed through their hand of cards (not tiles) by placing them on one of the four slots, never having the four top cards spelling anything but real words. Graphically, the game board is no more spectacular than it is in real life. Audibly, the game features some backgroung/elevator music which is nice but forgettable, and some sound effects that are nice in Classic and Slam modes and very, very important in Speed mode (letting attentions wander is speed mode can be devastating).
Category Score: 13.5 / 15
Most people know what Scrabble is and the basics on how it plays. Those people, and anyone else looking for a great word game, will be extremely happy with the Nintendo DS version of Scrabble (the 2009 version in Europe and Australia). The game has been around since 1938 (it was changed to its present board layout in 1948) and is one of the most famous board games in the world. If you like Scrabble (the board game), Scrabble (the Nintendo DS video game) plays identically, with the exception of not having to pick up pieces when you're done and without the possibility someone is palming tiles in between games.
A brief note: this is NOT the version of the game that drew ire in Europe when the game (which pulled words from the official Scrabble dictionary) started using profanity with children playing the game. That version of the game, the 2007 version, was never released outside of Europe. There are, however, some weird definitions in the official Scrabble dictionary, and watching for them is sort of like a game within a game. For example, while playing the game, I used the word "Greek" on one of my turns. I expected a definition like "of -- or having to do with -- the country of Greece" to show up. The definition in the Official Scrabble dictionary [External] is "something unintelligible" (which could be considered by some people to be slightly offensive -- to intellect rather than Greek people or culture. Obviously, the definition refers to the expression, "it's all Greek to me", but to skip the "Greece" definition? Really?
Allow guests to swap whether the touch screen is on the left or right, based on whether they are left-handed or right-handed.
Repair the glitches mentioned above (Slam card blinking, tile placing, and double-tap sensitivity).
Permit players to select game boards with backgroungs or custom boards.
Let players to design custom board layouts in-game.
Overall Single-Card Download Rating: 88 / 100 (a.k.a. 44/50)
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