Scrabble for Palm/Pocket PC by Handmark: Review (90%)

Scrabble for Palm/Pocket PC by HandmarkCurrently sending our productivity levels downwards at a worrying rate is the hideously addictive Scrabble for the Palm OS by Handmark.

Looking – and playing – just like the classic board game, the program offers the familiar Scrabble board layout, with drag and drop tiles which are stored at the bottom of the screen.

Just like in the real world, you can shuffle the order of these around so you can plan and prepare killer words, but -sadly – you won’t be able to ‘find’ blank squares under your foot.

The game offers two player modes: Friendly or Tournament.

Friendly mode is like playing against drunken mates where you can try and insist that ‘Zyptq’ is actually a real world, and force the program to accept words that aren’t in the included Official Scrabble Player’s Dictionary.

There’s also a “Suggest Move” option for those times when you can’t think of any words bigger than, err…um….”to.”

In the Tournament mode you play by the standard Scrabble rules, with challenges being automatically checked by the built-in Dictionary.

Scrabble for Palm/Pocket PC by HandmarkThe game offers four levels of automated computer opponent: Beginner, Novice, Intermediate, or Expert.

We arrogantly waded in at Expert level, and after being totally humbled repeatedly by an onslaught of obscure words we still don’t believe exist, we slunk down to Novice level where we still only managed to win about half of the games at first.

If you get bored having your sorry ass whipped by the computer, you can also take on real life chums, either by passing the Palm PDA around (the game will hide your tile rack from opponents) or via IR beaming and Bluetooth.

Although this game has been around for a very long time on the Palm OS, it’s still a hugely playable classic and easily holds its own against modern games.

The interface is attractive, simple and easy to use, with the computer opponent tough enough to keep you coming back for endless humiliations.

Scrabble for Palm/Pocket PC by HandmarkEven in expert mode, the computer was able to come up with challenge-destroying words almost instantaneously, so the only thing slowing the game down was our own ineptitude.

Since we installed the game on our Palm Treo 650 (it works fine straight off the card, by the way), we’ve been more or less addicted to Scrabble, having quick games whenever we find ourselves in a Post Office queue, waiting for friends or, err, going to the smallest room.

The game is also available on the Pocket PC and although both versions are a tad pricey at $19.95, we reckon they’re worth every penny.

Features: 85%
Gameplay: 90%
Ease of use: 85%
Value For Money: 80%
Overall: 90%
Handmark Scrabble for Palm OS
Handmark Scrabble for PocketPC