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Critical Thinking Software Reviews

Scrabble
from Hasbro Interactive

For Ages 7 to adult

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Critical Thinking software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.


Reviewed on:
Children's Software Screen Shot PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium90 with 24MB and 2XCD

Description
In the search for software that captures and holds the interest of an older child, male or female, there is always the new-twist-on-an-old-favorite variety. Included in this category is the ever-popular and unarguably-educational classic Scrabble.

For the most part, this game plays like the standard board-game version of Scrabble. Players form interlocking words vertically and horizontally on the screen using letter tiles of varying values . Before play begins, the user chooses from multiple game-options. Standard play supports up to four participants. The user can also choose to play against the computer "Maven", against a player on another computer, against an internet opponent, or simply let the computer play against itself and watch the words fly. Challenge levels ensure that even champion Scrabble players compete at an appropriate level of expertise.

Other helpful options include: Shuffle --computer generated shuffling of letters to encourage new letter combinations; Definitions --lets players check on validity of word ideas, Define Last --defines the last word played; Word Lister --has the computer suggest words using letters tiles in letter rack; Hint --lists all the best moves; and Recap --reviews all game moves in order, as well as points acquired for each move.

Ease of Install / Use
The program installed with ease on Windows 95. Basic use was intuitive, both for conventional board players, and novices.

The manuals included with the reviewers' software were incorrectly compiled, with certain pages duplicated, and others missing. Attempting to obtain the correct manual proved to be a lengthy undertaking. An on-screen version of the manual does, however, exist within the program.

One of the features of the program, play via modem or across the Internet, proved impossible for any of our reviewers to enable. Internet play comes in two flavors: with the use of a downloadable software tool from a third-party company, or across the net with a friend whose IP address is known to you.

Educational Value
Decades of play affirm that word-games strengthen the vocabulary, while sharpening the wit. Dictionaries come off the shelves, brains are taxed, minds engaged. This program's inclusion of "hints" and "definitions" options provides additional exposure to new words and their meanings.

Kid Appeal
Scrabble still holds major appeal for word lovers, young and old. Before computers, enthusiasts were known to play solitary games, challenging themselves to defeat their uniquely cunning adversary. Now they can play against the computer generated "Maven", an intriguingly mysterious, but not necessarily omnipotent, opponent.

SuperKids' parent reviewers enjoyed playing this game with their children--comparing vocabularies with the younger generation. "Once, I thought I had invented a word," commented one child reviewer, "but it wasn't challenged by the computer, so I looked it up and found its definition."

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This program appeals to word-game lovers who appreciate the value of a tried and true winner.

Educational Value= 5/5, Kid Appeal = 5/5, Ease of Use = 4/5

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Critical Thinking software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Windows 3.1; Win95 System 7 or later
CPU Type and Speed 486/66 680XX or PowerPC
Hard Drive Space 5 MB 5 MB
Memory (RAM) 8 MB 8 MB
Graphics 640 x 480 x 256 colors 640 x 480 x 256 colors
CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
Audio Sound card
Other Needs optional: modem, Internet access optional: modem, Internet access

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