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We like traditional Scrabble for its physical feel almost as much as the crossword game itself. We carefully arrange letters between turns, sometimes petting a groove into a treasured tile like rubbing Buddha’s belly. Scrabble for the iPod loses that physical touch, but it brings the game to turbulent flights and the family truckster without the danger of losing tiles under the seat.


Scrabble lives by its dictionary, the main rule in the tile-drawing and -spelling game. This version is “based on the Official Scrabble English Tournament Word List,” the official dictionary; EA says it’s the same, except a short list of offensive words were omitted. The control scheme generally works well to spin or tap through tiles, but we occasionally played a misspelling without noticing. Thankfully, this version doesn’t use challenges for words that aren’t in the dictionary, so we were just asked to try again.


Several extras impress us, although we wanted a little more. Gamers can play alone, against an able AI opponent, or against up to three other people. Shorter game modes, including matches to 75 points, keep things condensed for commuters, although players can resume full-length games later. A same-letter option even serves identical tiles for luck-free battles. But we also wanted turn timers and short, puzzle-of-the-day-style challenges for a perfect iPod conversion.


The bottom line: iPod Scrabble loses a little bit of its charm, but gains great portability and solo modes over the physical game.


COMPANY: Electronic Arts


PRICE: $4.99

REQUIREMENTS: iPod Nano (3rd generation), iPod Classic, or iPod Video (5th generation)

Uses nearly the same dictionary as tournament Scrabble. Several game modes include shortened rules. Controls work well to navigate tiles and zoom on the board. Supports four-players.

Could include more iPod-centric modes, like brief puzzles, challenges, and timers.





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Learn lots of two and three-letter words. You can find lists on the Web. They're the key to getting big scores, as they enable you to lay words in parallel on the board.
Try to keep a well-balanced rack of letters – for example three vowels and four consonants. If you end up vowel-heavy, you can usually dump at least a couple of them on the board for a simple three-letter word (see above).
The most valuable tiles if you're trying to make big words are the 'S' and the blanks. 'S' is particularly good when tagged on to another word to make a plural and start a new word at the same time.

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