There’s a lot of us out there that enjoy a good game of scrabble. Unfortunately most of the free time we get on weekends is spent getting ceremoniously and incoherently drunk. Besides, scrabble isn’t really the best way to pick up chicks….
Which is why i was really pleased to see a full-fledged scrabble app for Android that’s free. Read on to see if you should consider it.
First Impressions :-
For starters, the app is made by Zynga, the same app-development brains that got you poker on Facebook. Millions of idiots lose virtual currency every single day on that app.So naturally i had high expectations when i first installed this one.
To begin with the app asks you to provide either your Facebook or Twitter account to connect with your friends. I used my Facebook account and instantly was connected to about 50 friends that were also playing. Unfortunately, about 40 of them had probably played just one or two games and had forgotten to delete their account. Unless you have friends who you know are actually into Scrabble, don’t expect a lot of games coming your way.
There’s another option where the app finds opponents for you automatically. I actually found the matchmaking system quite useful. I was often paired up against opponents that were very close to my skill level as opposed to some other games where the difficulty level of my foes wildly fluctuated.
The app is really made well and responds fluently .The touch response is good and the app doesn’t lag very much. You might face a bit of lag on older phones with slow processors but on my iPhone 3GS and 1Ghz droid running ICS it worked fine.
The pinch zooming works well and the screen automatically zooms in when you need to place a word. The word tile is placed at the bottom of the screen with options to pass, shuffle and swap.
The app also doesn’t take a lot of bandwidth. All of the gameplay animations and the tile placements etc. happen on the device itself and are not network related. The only time the network is involved is when actually sending the words that you’ve played. Those with only a GPRS/EDGE connection can also play this game very effectively.
The app also has an inbuilt messaging service that is pretty effective, if rudimentary. Sometimes, you just want to yell at the person you’re playing with to make their move and it’s nice that you can do that from the app itself and not have to minimize it to open a messaging application.
Another cool feature is that you can have multiple games going on at the same time with different people. This is a huge plus cause you don’t have to twiddle your thumbs wait for your OCD friend to think of the perfect word. You can just start up a new game while you wait. If you have enough games going on, there’s a good chance you won’t have to wait at all. You can keep hopping on from game to game without missing a beat. This might impact your social life a wee bit, but if you’re geeky enough to play 15 games of Scrabble concurrently, you probably aren’t getting out much are you?…
There’s also a nifty “nudge” feature, that lets you remind someone when they haven’t played in more than 24 hours.
Annoying Little Things :-
CRUNCH TIME! This is the part of the review that i write after flinging my phone out the window and inviting my buddy to run it over with his car.
To begin with, the Free version of this application has some noticeable flaws, some of which can be “corrected” if you shell out real money for the paid version.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the layout is different from the stock game of Scrabble you’re used to. The location of the Double and Triple word and letter tiles is different. This is a really big difference if you’re used to the classic layout. Obviously since this isn’t a licensed version of Scrabble, Zynga had to tweak the layout a little bit. Scrabble purists will find this an intolerable fact but causal users won’t be too offended by it. Even though it’s different, the layout is effective and does work well.
One of the most irritating things is that the app doesn’t automatically tell you how much your word is worth. It has the ability to, but you have to unlock it via a payment of $2.99. I think this is a feature that should have been included with the application instead of forcing users to pay for it. Considering that this app is meant for folks that like to have a game of scrabble going while carrying out their usual lives, the app should be made as easy to use as possible. Unless you shell out some money, you have to actually pay attention to count your word score. Scrabble purists might be ok with this but casual users will be put off.
Then of course we have the ads. Not only is there a tiny ad bar at the bottom of the app, but after every single move you get to behold an entire ad page that’s usually for some retarded game that you wouldn’t download if you were stuck at a Taylor Swift concert for 6 hours. I know that free apps need advertisements to sustain themselves but they should try to keep the ads from getting so annoying. It will cost you a good $2.99 to get rid of the ads.
I also found that sometimes, even when your opponent has made a move, the app won’t give you a notification if it isn’t running in the background. So you have to run it every morning if you want to be absolutely sure of getting a notification. This happens a lot more often when you restart your phone.
What Are the Paid Upgrades:-
1) No Ads – The no ad upgrade can be yours for a measly $2.99. Consider this only if you’re sure you can’t live with the ads.
2)Score Count – As discussed above i think this should have been included in the free version of the app. It does make it a lot easier to tell how much a word of yours is going to score with this installed but for the causal user, spending money on this doesn’t make any sense.
3)Word-O-Meter – This is actually a pretty interesting little add-on. This add on promises to improve your vocabulary by suggesting words that can be made from the tiles you have. It also suggests what currently played words can be extended to give you a higher score. While not very useful for the average player, for those who want to improve their Scrabble chops (yes, there are people out there who actually care about their Scrabble skills) this add on makes a lot of sense to invest in. It is priced at $2.99 for 99 uses of the Word-O-Meter.
4)Tile Pile – This nifty little feature tells you how many of each alphabet still remains in the pile of undiscovered alphabets. Most scrabble veterans do this calculation in their heads, and knowing how many of which letters are left is a big part of professional Scrabble strategy. There’s no point waiting for an “O” to complete that seven letter word you’ve been trying for if there are no “O’s left in the pile. Again, this feature is directed lees towards the average player and more towards the Scrabble enthusiast. For $0.99 you get 10 uses of the Tile Pile.
5)Ultimate Play Pack – As you can probably guess by now, this combines all the above packs and bonuses into one large overpriced pack. You get unlimited use of the Word-O-Meter and the Tile Pack though and no ads ever. This pack is priced at $14.99. That i feel is really a lot of money to spend over a virtual Scrabble game. Most users won’t even want the extra features this pack offers and will simply opt for the no ads pack. We feel that Zynga could have reduced the price of this pack considerably and we’d have to advise against getting it unless you really are crazy about Scrabble and want all the extra goodies this pack offers.
I was really happy with the free version of Words with Friends.It does have its flaws but most are minor and can be overlooked. Until Scrabble actually releases an official mobile app, this is one of the best lookalike Scrabble experiences the Play Store and App Store has to offer. I would recommend this app to everyone who likes Scrabble and wants to play a game or two on the go. If the ads are really bothering you then I’d also recommend the no ads pack.
We give Words with Friends a Bawabrains rating of…..
Words With Friends :- 7/10
You can download Words With Friends for Android from here. Download Words With Friends Android App.
You can download Words with Friends for iPhone from here. Download Words With Friends iPhone App
You can visit the official Words With Friends website from here. Official Words With Friends WebSite
I hope you enjoyed this review and as usual you can post any comments or questions in the section below. Cheers and happy word making!