Sunday, 2 December 2012

Specvent Calendar Day 2 - Computer Scrabble

Computer Scrabble

Advent Calendar Day 2 - Computer Scrabble (Psion, 1983)
Make no mistake, for 1983 this was a massive achievement - a fully-fledged implementation of Scrabble, with an 11,000 word dictionary, packed into the humble 48K Speccy. With 4 skill levels and the ability to see the computer thinking, you could happily sit back and just watch the game play itself, but at the highest levels it played a challenging enough game to satisfy the keenest word nut (literally so, in the game I'm currently playing it's challenged almost every word I've entered, though it's gracious enough to accede to my confirmation that FLOUTING (76 points - yay!) is OK. It even has a B&W TV option, with the coloured squares replaced by patterns. You can rearrange your tiles, or have them randomly jumbled in search of inspiration, and the input method - cursor keys to the start of your word then A or D and type - works like a dream.
At £15.95 on release it was possibly the most expensive single game cassette release for the machine, but I've yet to find a contemporary review saying it wasn't worth it - it predated Crash but its Living Guide noted  "if you enjoy playing Scrabble, you’ll love the Spectrum version — even if you don’t like Scrabble, you’ll love the Spectrum version!" It was also one of the few Spectrum games that worked well on my old N-Gage emulator...

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