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Scrabble Tools - DSiWare App Review

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Scrabble Tools

DSiWare | EA | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 500 Nintendo Points
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20th August 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Anyone who enjoys playing the real-life version of Scrabble will definitely want to check out Scrabble Tools. Extracted from EA's original Scrabble DS release, Scrabble Tools is an application that's been re-released on the DSiWare store for only $5. It's a perfect thing to have when you're playing the board game with friends and family.

    There are 4 slots you can assign profiles to, meaning that others within your household can make use of this app too. Customizing your profile involves selecting from one of four icons which are actually pretty worthless. Thankfully, you have the ability to use the Nintendo DSi Camera to take a photo of something much more interesting for a custom icon. And don't worry left-handed players, EA has included a function that has you changing the orientation of the DSi much like myNotebook, so you can still enjoy the game.

    The Main Menu presents you with six different choices: Tools, Training and Skill Tracker are the central options of choice, but you also have a mode for adjusting game settings, your standard Help manual, and a button that will take you back to the DSi Menu. The 'Tools' area is where your main focus will be, including two different features: Dictionary and Word Finder. As the name suggests, the first selection will allow you to enter tiles into a field to determine if a word is valid. And if it is, the game will display a definition of the word for you to refer to. It's useful against people who claim a word exists but in reality, they're just making it up to score points. And who knows, even if you're wrong, you'll learn some new words too. 

Now Word Finder allows you to essentially re-create the current state of the board on your DSi to determine word possibilities, even with score multipliers. Simply tap the square in question and input the tile from the keyboard below. You can input blank spaces by dragging them from your palette to the board, with the chosen letter displayed in Red. After everything is set, you can then proceed to enter the tiles you have in your possession. Then hit the Play button for a list of the Top 10 possibilities that will generate the most points. If you slide your stylus down the list, the left screen will display exactly where the new tiles will be placed and if you're pleased with it, hit Place to add it onto your in-game board. 

    Of course, it's recommended that you don't use this feature to play through an entire game since it takes away from some of the "fun" in the game. That is, seeing how extensive your vocabulary really is. However, this feature is actually pretty cool, and it can be useful for the end of the game when you're stumped with a limited number of tiles, or you can even use it in a more practical sense to see which letters are missing from your collection. And even if you head back accidentally, the game saves everything you entered for easy viewing when you return.

Rather than just leaving it at that, EA also added special mini-games so solo players can become better players. You can opt to use these during a game while you're waiting for slow players to respond, or later when you're on your own. Some mini-games will have you making as many two-letter words as possible, guessing words based on the definitions provided, or placing tiles on a board. There's a bunch of training exercises that will help you improve your vocabulary and even be more alert to score possibilities. 

    The presentation is pretty standard affair: menus are easy to navigate, and handy icons help direct users around. The music is limited and repetitive but that shouldn't come as a big surprise.

    Scrabble Tools is extremely handy for players like me who enjoy playing Scrabble. The alternative would be to purchase an official player's dictionary, but this is a much cheaper option, not to mention you get some extras too. But I must admit that for an application, $2 would've been a much more appropriate price for this game. Nevertheless, it's an easy purchase for fans of the classic board game.

21/30 - Good

Functionality 9/10 - Provides definitions of words, can re-create the current state of your board game, custom icons with the DSi Camera
Presentation 6/10 - Looks decent, nothing special, easy navigation, repetitive music
Lasting Appeal 3/5 - You can definitely feel comfortable using this during group sessions, can expand your vocab and more when you're not playing Scrabble
Value 3/5 - Cheaper than buying an official dictionary, includes extra mini-games to help improve your skills at the game, should've been only $2

Equivalent to a score of 70% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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