Scrabble Tools (DSiWare)

Game Review

Scrabble Tools Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Hey, a Scrabble dictionary! And some other junk, too.

After a solid vanilla version of the main game and a less-than-great spin-off, EA and Hasbro's third DSiWare outing of the popular board game comes in the form of Scrabble Tools. It's not so much about playing as it is about improving how you play.

The application bundles two useful tools along with three potentially helpful training exercises. Finally included in a Scrabble release is a full searchable dictionary, which for some people might justify a purchase in and of itself. The other tool is Word Finder, which helps you pick your best available move based on your letter rack and what's on the board.

As for exercises, Scrabble Tools brings with it Vocabulary Training, Pattern Recognition and Score Strategy. The former comes in two stages: the first gives you a word's definition and one clue, asking you to fill out the remainder using what's in your letter rack in the 90-second time limit, and the second has you make as many two-letter words as possible during another 90 seconds. Pattern recognition gives you a full letter rack with which to make a bunch of words on a time limit; the left screen shows how many are possible and their length. Score Strategy is another two-parter. In phase one, the empty seven-tile playing field includes special squares like double word/letter score, and you try to form words that best take advantage of them. For phase two, a few are spelled out on the regular game board and you again try to form words for maximum pointage.

Sounds well and good, no? As it turns out, each one is and isn't. The dictionary has the most potential unless you only play Scrabble on your DSi, in which case Tools is useless during play for obvious reasons. The same issue plagues Word Finder too; unless you're in the middle of a game, you probably won't turn to it, and if your main method of play is Scrabble Classic on DSi then you can't use it to look up words without having to obnoxiously switch between the two programs. It might prove useful when playing the real board game, but good luck finding an opponent that's okay with you essentially cheating. Maybe it'd come in handy if you play a lot of online Scrabble or something.

The training tools can come in handy if only to learn obscure words (we will now do everything in our power to play "zarf"), but a few things keep them from reaching their full potential. For one, a lot of the time you'll probably have no idea what word you're trying to spell, which leads to a lot of random letter jumbles that may or may not be fair game (hence "zarf"). And if you skip or fail an exercise, you never find out what the troublesome word was and thus won't learn it. Another issue is the timer: with only 90 seconds (60 in Score Strategy) to solve a stream of puzzles, beginners will have a tough time taking anything away from it all since you need a chunk of time just to get a lay of the land. There's no way to fiddle with the clock either, so a lot of times your learning experience ends up as wham-bam-take a hike.


Scrabble Tools tries to be educational, but its method of teaching is so slapdash that you'll probably come away with only a few more random words for your vocabulary. The dictionary is welcome, but should have just been included in the other two DSiWare releases where it would have been more directly beneficial. If you're a diehard Scrabble player or just need to have an official dictionary in digital form, then this might be alright, but everyone else need not apply.

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User Comments (22)



Xkhaoz said:

Hmmm. Would be better if, y'know, you could actually play Scrabble.



sillygostly said:

Ridiculously priced and even more ridiculously scored. Seriously? A five? Given what I know about this "game", I'd find it difficult to give it any more than a 3. A full-fledged dictionary/thesaurus app would have been far more useful.

This has got to be byfar one of the most moronically conceived DSiWare apps yet. An app for teaching you to play a popular physical board game without the ability to play said board game on the handheld?

Completely asinine, yet it manages to conform to EA's stance on shamelessly cashing in on any IP that they have access to. For shame, EA.



fishman100 said:

Isn't there a built-in dictionary in Scrabble Classic?
If so, what's the point of this??



gaminguy said:

@fishman- I'm pretty sure there is, and you make a good point. Why get this if you have a dictionary in another dsiware game?



JonWahlgren said:

It was included in the sense that the games would recognize what was a valid word for play, but you couldn't look up a word yourself.



Kyloctopus said:

I like to play a board game every night this summer (for three days in a row it`s monopoly) Scrabble is a fun game and no one needs to know that your actually on Scrabble Tools. Becides my turn takes long always. And I hate when people play for me. So I might get this application



Kyloctopus said:

I think we would all buy a portable dictionary for $5.00. And if you love scrabble and have the game or play the internet or ipod versain then you would love this game.



grumblegrumble said:

Not to mention... this comes (along with the other mini Scrabble dsiware offerings) on the regular SD cart "Scrabble" by EA, and it's on sale right now for $20. Go save money and get the real cart! ;D



SilverBaretta said:

According to that title screen, wouldn't it be called "Scrabble n' Tools FGUA"? But in all seriousness, this doesn't make any sense. Why release a video game of something you can undoubtedly find cheaper in the real world? The actual main game itself is fine, because the actual scrabble game casts a bit, but this thing is just insanely uneeded.



cheapogamer4life said:

After spending some time with this app it bugs me that they give you a ranking in fhis game that your not able to improve on. I spent hours in the training sessions with the thought of, all I needed was a few more points to increase my skill average to make it to level two. Sadly that never happen, but I think this title does a good job if you never played Scrabble™ like I was before I download this. Also I think its pretty neat that if you have players will to share one game rack in the word finder mode you can play Scrabble™ if you like. The only real problem with that is each player will have to take turns filling in the rack after each person has played.

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