This new version of Scrabble – native to Mac OS X and a Universal binary for Intel-based Macs – sticks to the basics, offering the traditional board game played either alone against the computer or another human player in “hot seat” mode (taking turns on the same computer).
When you play against another human, the computer pauses the game in between each turn so you don’t see each other’s tiles. There’s no online game component, unfortunately, so if you’re home alone, the computer is the only opponent you’ll find, but there are different skill levels you can set the computer to, so there’s always a challenge.
There’s also a time-based speed version: Blitz makes you race against the clock, forcing you to lay down words within a set number of seconds; Tournament mode lets you play as long as possible within a set number of minutes; and Custom Tournament lets you set time and word assistance options yourself.
Scrabble has some nice features, such as automatic pause if you click in a window in another application (it hides the tiles on the board so you can’t cheat in timed play) and an automatic save feature that saves the current game if you quit for any reason. There’s also a hint feature (it doesn’t give the game away completely, just shows you the approximate area you can make a word using your letters), as well as the official Merriam-Webster Scrabble Player’s Dictionary built in.
There are a few sound effects – some musical accompaniments, the sound of tiles being laid on the board – but nothing showy or overwhelming. You can adjust sound effects volume and choose to have the game in full screen or windowed mode. You can also create several players, and since Scrabble tracks your progress, this is helpful if you’d like to keep stats on the family.
At $20, Scrabble from Gamehouse is good value for anyone who wants to relive the fun of Hasbro’s classic criss-crossing word board game on their Mac. There are a few shortcomings, such as an absence of network play or score sharing, but those are forgivable exclusions.