Scrabble Classic (DSiWare)

Game Review

Scrabble Classic Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Words in your pants

Scrabble has been kicking around as a DS release for almost a year now, but plopping down full price for a board game adaptation that you might only play every once in a while is kind of a tough pill to swallow for a lot of people. This DSiWare release, while reduced in both price and features, is a good alternative for wordsmiths but goes down a little more bitter than we’d like.

In case you’ve never heard of Scrabble before, it’s basically Dictionary: The Board Game. Your goal is to spell out or build upon words on the board using letter tiles worth a varying amount of points depending on how common they are in the language (e.g. the letter A is but one point whereas Q is worth ten); whomever racks up the most points when no more moves are possible wins.

Navigating the board is as easy as sliding the stylus around. You plop pieces on the board by dragging them into place, and zooming in or out is but a double-tap away. Sadly, wildly running the stylus across the touchscreen won’t flip and ruin the board for those times your opponent blows your mind by placing something like benzoxycamphors, which was my favorite part of playing Scrabble as a child with my gram. She always was a sore loser.

This DSiWare release is essentially the Express version of the full retail release, meaning it cuts out a lot of the fat and delivers straight-up Scrabble. The only “modes” are Classic and Speed, which puts a timer on the game, so there’s no Slam to change things up. You can “level up” your profile and unlock things like avatar images, but the leveling mostly acts as a matchmaking tool to pit you against an appropriately difficult AI player.

There are some nice inclusions to help you, like a handy Hint system and Scrabble dictionary, and each word played comes with a definition for when you can’t believe your opponent isn’t just making stuff up. You can take on up to three other AI players (who are smart enough to pose a challenge but not as cheap as to make you feel like you’re just playing against the official dictionary) by yourself or squishy real humans in local wireless multiplayer, but playing against your friends is more of a hassle than it really should be.

EA apparently saw fit to cut out Download Play for the DSiWare version, so if you want to wrangle up a friend or three for multiplayer you’ll have no choice but to each pay for your own download. At 800 points each that’s a potential 3200-point investment, and by then you’re better off paying for a retail copy (which also includes pass-the-DS multiplayer, absent here). Or, if you own an Apple handheld, the App Store version will set you back the equivalent of 500 points with more features, like the ability to play against your friends on Facebook. There really isn’t any good reason why this stuff couldn’t have been included here given the asking price compared to what’s on the App Store.


Scrabble is an indisputable word game classic and those with a penchant for the genre will gobble this up. A few cuts on DSiWare make the 500-point App Store version the better choice for those who also own an Apple handheld, but this is an otherwise competent adaptation of Scrabble for when you just want to get some spelling on.

From the web

User Comments (15)



Stuffgamer1 said:

When I want to get some spelling on, I usually use either the actual board game (weird, huh?) or the version of Scrabble included in the American version of Hasbro Family Game Night (which I have for both Xbox 360 and PS3, both of which I downloaded on sale). Matter of fact, it's the latter that got me hooked on the game in the first place. I managed to go 20 years without really having played Scrabble at all.

Anyway...this release does indeed sound overpriced for the features. But that's EA for you.

Also...I'm getting REALLY tired of these DSiWare games that are really just stripped down ports of retail games. They've been doing that since launch; can't they think of anything more original (that doesn't suck) YET?

EDIT: 'Tis a very good review, BTW. Just thought I should add that tidbit on here.



colmtheperson said:

I agree the only non-stripped down version of a game on dsiware is zombie bbq, pretty good game as well if anybody is tempted!



warioswoods said:

"Also...I'm getting REALLY tired of these DSiWare games that are really just stripped down ports of retail games."

I'm not tired of it at all; I never really buy retail games for the DS anymore, with rare exception (Zelda was the last). For the vast majority of portable games -- and Scrabble is one of these -- my problem with retail is that they just have to shove in a lot of pointless additional content and modes in order to justify a bloated price tag. Just give me the core game for cheap, and stop wasting my time with extra features I don't care about. DSiWare is great for that purpose.



HolyMackerel said:

@colmtheperson There's also Chronos Twin which is exactly the same as its retail version. Number Battles is also almost complete, I think. Envious that you can get Zombie BBQ though. Hoping for a NA release!

Good review, covered all the points I was wondering about. Since there's no DS Download Play or single player pass-it-around, I'll pass. Thanks!




Use to have 2007, then 2009 but sold them on. Think I'll be going for this one. Cheers for the revw.



I think you are being too harsh with this game. What did you expected? besides 8 dls is not that much. Scrabble is a timesless classic and I think is a great alternative to the Travel version you find in toy stores.



Natie31 said:

Download this game and its fun to have up to level 2 tryin to work my way up.



grumblegrumble said:

I agree with WariosWoods... Who would want to plonk down an additional $20-30 for a few more bloated modes and features? For $8, you are basically getting just the standard version of the retail Scrabble DS game. Of course, once you've played any other versions (PC versions or online, App Store versions) you might look at this and think it's sub-par, and it really is, in many areas, however, I agree with the review score, it's just about a 7/10. (And I am a Scrabble fanatic.) The fact that you can't change the one song and some gameplay mechanics are a little different (and in a bad way) in this version.



Kid_A said:

Damn, I was really hoping for download play or at least pass-the-DS multiplayer. Buuut I'm a bit of a Scrabble fanatic so I'm torn.



Stuffgamer1 said:

My main problem with these downloadable versions is how they usually insist on nerfing or outright REMOVING the multiplayer aspect of the game. For Scrabble, everybody needs to drop $8 to play whereas the retail version has single-card mode. For Dr. Mario, Puzzle League, and Clubhouse Games, they cut the multiplayer entirely! I simply do not see that as a value purchase, as ALL of these games are best played with friends.



bboy2970 said:

Can someone clarify this for me? The review mentions something about a Scrabble Dictionary. Does that mean there is a place you can just type in a word and see it's definition, or is that just making reference to the fact that when a word is placed, you get it's definition? If it is the former then this game can also serve as a good dictionary app, right?



Adamant said:

8$ for portable virtual Scrabble with all the modes anyone really plays (seriously, what else of interest could the bloated retail version have?) is a pretty decent deal.
Yeah, sure, there's no download play (pass-around play would make it too easy to peek at your opponent's pieces, so that's a bad idea anyway), but how often are you really going to be sitting around with you Scrabble-loving DSi-bringing friends without a nearby board anyway? This one is more for quick gaming on the go, save the multiplayer for the real Scrabble board (and hey, for those who really needs that feature, it's something to make the more expensive cart version more appealing, and the developers sure needs something to make those still be viable purchases for someone out there)

Can't see this one getting a European release, though. No one's going to buy English word games outside English-speaking countries, so there's 90% of the market gone already.



Roebuck77 said:

I recently watched a documentary called "WordWars" (anyone else seen it?) and brought me a whole new appreciation for this game. A must have for me



John1v6 said:

Unfortunately just been on DSi Ware but no scrabble of any kind (including this one) is available. Looks like Europe never got this I assume there's some kind of stupid licencing issue - or they have to translate to 15+ EU languages including British English. Looks like I'll have to get the cartridge
I have Scrabble for the PC anyhow (for 3 GBP) but I can't exactly carry a PC around.

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