Scrabble for the iPhone bites!

I bought Scrabble for the iPhone (warning: iTunes link — actually I didn’t get that exact one, I got the one in the Australian iTunes store, which includes English, French, German, Italian and Spanish) on sale last week. I was pretty impressed with the interface, the ease of play and the general enjoyment of the game, until I got to the hard level…

There are three playing levels: easy, normal and hard. Normal is pretty easy to win — easy enough that I win every time — but hard has so far been impossible to win. The computer almost doubles my score every time, and it’s not just because my vocabulary isn’t extensive enough, the bloody thing makes up words!

Check out these screenshots: I checked every one of these highlighted words in the Scrabble Dictionary and also the Oxford Dictionary.

I found the language options in the app and selected English. That part of the interface is pretty poor: there is no indication of which language is already selected, except that the menus are also in that language and since my game menus were in English I thought the computer player would be playing by the rules in English. Perhaps that was too much to assume?

Anyway, since double checking the language I’ve played one game on the hard level. It seemed like there were fewer illegal words, but there were still at least a couple.

It sucks the fun out of a game when you know you can’t win because the other playing is cheating! Also, this game really needs an in-game dictionary and possibly a “challenge” feature, because evidently the computer player can’t be trusted.

Comments

  1. Although I am not one to purchase many games, I do not like being defieted either (espicially by a computer). However, much to my dismay, some of the word you have highlighted are actually words.

    Examples

    • Putzes – This word is slang and usually means to behave in an idle manner.
    • Taeniate – Means longitudinally striped.
    • Uey – This one actualy made me laugh. It means to “Flip a bitch” or turn around in the shape of a U.

    Sad as it may seem, the computer is usually right because it is programed by a set of ten (or more) nerds that do nothing but read, learn, and code. Good Day!

  2. Kopepash — It’s true, if you do a Google search on some of those words they do come up with meanings, but in Scrabble, if the word is not in the Scrabble dictionary (or a standard dictionary of the language you are playing in) it shouldn’t be played. Taeniate is not in a single standard english dictionary that I’ve looked up so far (I’m guessing it may be some specialist geographic or cartographic word), and the same goes for many slang words — they might be used in some ways, but like acronyms they cannot be played. The game is breaking the rules of Scrabble.

  3. Yes, it has been a while since I have played Scrabble and forgot that the game’s dictionary is ruler of all.

    Thank you for fixing my comment, I do not know how the coding came out incorrectly.

    After reading this post, I can honestly say I will not purchase the game. Thanks for the heads up!

  4. This is very funny. Although I feel your pain, i think a program designed to win at all cost regardless of the rules is quite humerous. It’s a shame you have to pay good money for it before you found out. Maybe there should be a disclaimer. Something along the lines of: Warning! This program displays a latent disregard for the rules of scrabble and has a propensity to cheat. buyer beware.

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  6. When playing a computer in Scrabble the winning is in the learning. So when you play a friend you have the increased vocabulary to win.

  7. Jeff — I don’t mind losing at all when all parties are playing by the rules. It’s not a good learning experience if the computer plays words that I cannot play in a Scrabble game against real people: they would challenge the words and I would lose my turn because they’re not in the Scrabble dictionary.

  8. Dave

    yes, its hard, but you can beat it. you need to make use of your 4 “best word” options – these are best used when you have blanks because there’s bound to be a bingo in there somewhere. thus far I have played the computer 13 times on hard, won 5 and lost 8. so it IS possible!

  9. Dave — My complaint was never that the hard level is too hard; it was that the computer cheats! It uses words that would not be allowed in the normal rules of Scrabble— as demonstrated in the screenshots, and explained further in comment #2.

    There is a different version of Scrabble in the app store for the US and for the rest of the world and at least one of the screenshots I took had a few French words in it… maybe it was a bug in the international version that was sometimes letting other languages words be played.

    My complaint is pretty common in the history of reviews in the App Store, but I haven’t played this game for a long time (since I got fed up with its cheating), it could have gotten better (although the dictionary is still complained about in the reviews). I might give it another play soon.

  10. Rodger

    The Scrabble app appears to allow American spelling with weird results for an Australian. Is there an Oxford Dictionary based version?

  11. Rachel

    Thanks for the post. I love scrabble and am really loving the game. But I am starting to get annoyed because I can’t properly learn from this game. So many words are NOT words, but, as you say, acronyms and slang and I am not sure what else. I look them up in the dictionary to no avail. Such a shame as I want so much to enjoy and learn from my old favourite, scrabble.