September 20, 2018
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Publisher: iWin    Genre: Board & Card
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: Any CPU    Hard Disk: 40 MB    Graphics: 800x600 @ 32-bit

May 22, 2009 | Richard Hallas

Click to enlarge

Finding a 7-letter word in Boggle
WARNING: This review contains some mildly rude and offensive words. They're present for reasons that will become perfectly obvious, but I mention the fact at the start just so that readers aren't taken by surprise.

I have a deep, dark secret. A vice. Something that I keep hidden from others, for fear of shame and ridicule. It's a problem I've lived with for two decades, now, and I fear there's no cure. But perhaps the best way to confront my condition is to share it with others, so I've decided that the time has come, at long last, for me to emerge from the closet and announce it to the world.

I'm a Boggle addict.

The addiction, like a bad case of the 'flu, was passed on to me by someone in the late 1980s and I've lived with it ever since. I'm not talking about some recent, passing fad. I don't need to go on Facebook to get my fix, or whip out my iPod touch to play the latest amateur computer variant of the classic game. I'm talking about my original board game with its orange tray (proof of its age: these days the trays are blue), set of sixteen letter cubes and three-minute hourglass. Give me that, a pen, a pad of paper and an opponent to trounce, and I'll be happy for hours. Grown men have been known to weep under the onslaught of my rapier wits when it comes to this game. I'm a killer; I show no mercy, and it doesn't matter to me at all that I always win.

Not that I'm bragging or anything, but I'm actually reasonably good at this game. It's annoyed me for a while that Windows users have been favoured with an official version of the game that Mac users were denied, so when I spotted that a Mac version had finally appeared, I jumped at the chance to review it.

And let me say now: be careful what you wish for; you may get it.

As you'll notice from the scores, this isn't one of the best games I've ever played. Actually it is one of the best games I've ever played; just not on the computer. Boggle itself is an utterly superb game from which I've derived countless hours of pleasure, but the real thing is, for me at least, much more appealing than its computerised equivalent. And it's not that the computer version is bad as such (in fact, it has quite a lot to commend it); it's just that it has 'issues', as the modern parlance goes. Anyway, I'll come to all that in a moment. First, let's recap briefly what Boggle actually is.

A Boggle overview
If you don't know what Boggle is all about, then there's a handy page on Wikipedia that'll tell you. But to summarise briefly, every game of Boggle lasts for three minutes. The game board takes the form of a 4×4 grid of slots, and into those go 16 cubes, on each side of which is printed a letter. You shake the board to redistribute the cubes at the start of each game, which gives the game its variety. Your objective over three minutes is to write down as many words as you can find in the board. Words must be at least three letters long, and must be formed by stepping from letter to letter horizontally, vertically and diagonally, starting and finishing anywhere and using each cube no more than once per word.

Once the three minutes are up, you check off your words with your opponent: any that have been found by more than one player must be crossed off and discounted. You score for your remaining valid words, with three- and four-letter words scoring one point each and longer words scoring more highly.

In the 1990s, a new, bigger version of Boggle was issued, called Boggle Master (I have one of those, too). Its rules were exactly the same as those for Boggle, except that it featured a 5×5 grid of 25 letter cubes, and words had to be four or more letters long.

The computerised version under review here supports both 4×4 and 5×5 editions of Boggle, but not the other variations that you can read about on the Wikipedia page.


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