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Hasbro Family Game Night: Scrabble Review

Developer: Electronic Arts Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: March 17, 2009 Available On: Xbox 360

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Hasbro Family Game Night has finally arrived for the Xbox Live Arcade. The beloved toy company has released several of their most popular board games as a part of the Hasbro Family Game Night channel. You are able to purchase each game separately, so for this review, we will take a look at what is most likely the game with the biggest reputation in the collection: Scrabble. The popular word game has been around for more than half a century, is available in 29 different languages, is the center of a nationwide school program, and even had it’s own game show. And now console gamers can finally get in on the fun. All you need is a controller and 800 MS points.

For the sake of brevity, I will not go into detail on how to play the game, for I am certain everyone who reads this is at least familiar with the game. But I will tell you that the entire Scrabble experience is definitely here and then some. For purists, you are able to play the original game to your hearts content, either by yourself or up to 3 other players. In addition to the original game, you can try your hand at other game modes like Tournament, which pits you and another player against each other with 25 minutes each to play. There’s also Hot Letters, which allows you to shake the bag of tiles to heat them up. More fire means hotter letters, which means more points. But shake it too much and your letters will become burnt, making them worth no points. Bridge Builders is a different take on the game, tasking each player to make words that stretch the length from one side of the board to the other. Minefield replaces all the bonus squares on the board with question marks, so where a double word score would normally be, you may find a triple word score, or just a double letter score, or even a mine which destroys your word scoring you a big fat zero.

The presentation is pretty simple. You have Mr. Potato Head as your host of sorts, who really just makes oohs and aahs when you make your move. You can also select from a few different backgrounds. The music changes with each background also; it’s not awful, but you will be hearing the same tunes over and over since there aren’t alot of selections. The game board is a decent size as are the tiles, so you won’t have a problem seeing your words, especially since the game zooms in when you’re making your move. Controls are accurate and the interface is solid. If you play the wrong letter, don’t go blaming the game.

As much as I like this game, it is not without its faults. The biggest one has to do with the obscure camera angle you have of the board when its not your turn. Depending on where your opponent plays a word, it might be hard to see it on your end, which makes challenging words inexcusably difficult. Also, if you are playing an offline match, since everyone who is playing will be sharing the same television, it means you all can see each other’s letters. This is something that can’t be avoided I suppose, so it just means you’ll have to play nice with the person on the other side of the couch. There is also an unfortunate bug where if you are about to start a game online and someone joins in the seconds between when you agree to start and the game sets up, you will be stuck with no way to go back or quit. The only thing you can do is start over by going to the dashboard and Family Game Night. It’s a nuisance to say the least.

Even though the above complaints are annoying, they really aren’t dealbreakers. The core Scrabble experience is here which is what is most important. The ability to play online with voice chat and full control over settings so you can customize the game however you want makes this a wonderful adaptation of the classic board game. If you think this game might be up your alley, it probably is, and you definitely won’t regret the purchase.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8
Written by Matthew Cales Write a User Review