Game Over Online ~ WordGame

GameOver Game Reviews - WordGame (c) Resco, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher WordGame (c) Resco
System Requirements Pocket PC
Overall Rating 78%
Date Published Saturday, January 5th, 2002 at 07:08 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

The popularity of Scrabble has given birth to anecdotes and stereotypes for its players. In fact, it even worked itself into a major Hollywood film; the Wedding Planner. There's no other way to describe WordGame. It definitely involves words or more precisely, letters and the arrangement of them into words. You work on a tile-based board, placing virtual word tiles down to construct words. Some board spaces have extra points if you use them and you have a set number of letter pieces to choose from, although you can exchange them if you find yourself stumped in a particular round. So really, we should all be frank and accept the fact that WordGame is a Scrabble clone.

As a clone, WordGame works pretty faithful to the game of Scrabble save for a few minor adjustments. The first noticeable thing is the restriction to only two players. You can play against the computer or play hot seat against someone else. The AI featured is pretty impressive. It operates on four levels from having the most mundane grasp of the English vocabulary to an absolute domineering command of obscure words that you swear can only be found attached to the appendix of the OED. Although everything is seemingly like Scrabble, I missed the rare moments, late in the game, when three or four players are fumbling to attach letters to existing words in hopes to score points. Playing against one other player seemed more like a duel; an exercise to test whose vocabulary war chest was deeper. On the simplest level, the AI only knows how to construct words with two or three letters. Still, it persists to best you because it is able to construct more two-letter words than you could dream of and even though Resco claims they have incorporated a 160,000 word English dictionary, some of these words will undoubtedly come under scrutiny, whether you are a literary buff or not. I often found myself being beaten by "ta" or "pe". At higher levels of difficulty, the AI has a better grasp for much longer words but they are still equally obscure. The first onslaught the AI put out was "remigate". Under, it came up in one dictionary (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary) as: To migrate again, to go back, to return.

However, I digress, so let us remigate back to the article at hand. The dictionary is not integrated into the product and in fact, can be chosen as long as you possess the right one. I imagine this is a boon to international players but I found the options for the dictionary lacking. I thought it would have been nice to work in some ability to limit the minimum word size. Toggling whether slang is allowed would also have been a boon. At the very least, an undo feature for both players would allow for some form of contestation of the result. As it stands now, the dictionary included will generate some pretty strange rounds of WordGame.

AI and dictionary difficulties aside, WordGame's visual appeal is clear and concise. The layout is easy to follow and you won't find yourself squinting to get a good look at the game. Resco has been a noted applications developer for the Windows CE and Pocket PC platform for quite some time. It obviously has the execution of such programs down pat. The title, however, is dotted with sparse audio effects and this perhaps explains its relatively small size. WordGame takes up little over one and a half megabytes of memory, including the dictionary for the English language.

The developers have informed me that a second version is in the works. The main upgrade consists of multiplayer capabilities via infrared. A few months ago, I also covered Handmark's translation of Scrabble to the Palm platform. The higher resolution in WordGame provides better readability here but hopefully Resco will take some cues from the Palm version; special pricing for multiple copies or even client-only licenses. Handmark was able to bear the official Scrabble license because they worked towards securing it from Hasbro. One bullet point in the feature list is the "Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary" (their words, not mine). I didn't know how important this could be until now. Still, if you are able to secure a slightly more laymen's dictionary copy for WordGame, you'll almost think you're playing Scrabble; albeit with two less players.

[07/10] Addictiveness
[15/20] Gameplay
[11/15] Graphics
[09/10] Interface/controls
[09/10] Program Size
[02/05] Sound
[05/05] Discreetness
[12/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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