|Publisher: GameHouse Genre: Board & Card|
|Min OS X: 10.4|
GameHouse's Scrabble Journey is an adequate game, but it should have done much better. The concept is good, and the play is enjoyable. However, the art is second-rate, the soundtrack is as boring as it gets, and the animation routines consume way too much processor power.
When I first got my copy of Scrabble Journey, I was excited about playing a new variation on an age-old game. I have been a fan of Scrabble as far back as I can remember. For me, Scrabble has been the game that I have never tired of playing.
The original Scrabble was invented in 1938 by Alfred Mosher Butts, an architect, who also designed an earlier word game called Lexico. The original Scrabble uses a square board divided into a 15 x 15 grid. There are two to four players in each game, and each player forms words using letter tiles drawn from a bank of 100. Players score by adding up the total values of the letters they play and any bonuses that happen to be on the grid where they place their letters. Bonuses range from doubling or tripling the score of the letters played directly on the bonus location, to doubling or tripling the score of the entire word. After the initial word is played at the center of the board, each subsequent word must intersect at least one letter that has already been played to make a word or words.
This new variation combines the wonderful wordplay of the original game with a quest and a variety of maps that resemble a sort of obstacle course populated by houses, bridges and other geographic oddities. Instead of playing anywhere on the board to achieve the best advantage of bonus points and tiles consumed per turn, your strategy must be very different. You must play from one side of the board the other, navigating around barriers and through chokepoints, to arrive at a specific location on the map.
I found this idea to be a quite challenging, an interesting change from the Scrabble I have known and loved. One of my strengths in Scrabble has been coming up with very long words using valuable letters to achieve impressive scores.
However, Scrabble Journey forced me into a new mode where I had to use words of a specific length, often very short words, to navigate the map. I also found that it was often necessary to have words intersect at more than one letter at a time. This caused some really interesting challenges, because each intersection has to form an actual word that is in the game's dictionary. So what could have been a trivially simple game — with all its short words — can actually be maddeningly complex.