Squabble 1.0.2, by Freeverse
Posted: 2-Dec-2004

5 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Freeverse Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Moe Bradley Class: PRODUCTIVITY
     
$19.95   Download

Overview
What do you get when you cross Scrabble with Boggle? You get SQUABBLE, a game touted by its creators, Andrew Trevorrow and Freeverse Software, as "quick to learn and easy to play." Quick to learn - yes! Easy to play - conceptually, yes, but maybe not so easy in practice.

Requirements

  • Mac OS 8.6, 9.x or X
  • 20 MB hard drive space
  • Internet Connection for Online Play


Setup
Game installation is easy - a simple .sit download from
www.freeverse.com, which your download manager should unstuff (yes, I am still using System 9.2). Move to your applications or games folder, and you are pretty much ready to go.
58 -> 82

In Use
When you launch Squabble, you must make a decision whether to play online against other human opponents, or play on your Mac against 1, 2, or 3 players supplied by the game. Once you have chosen the quantity of players, you may then set the quality of their game play, ranging from 0 (novice) to 9 (expert). Even if you consider yourself to be a great word game player, when you are just starting out with Squabble, a novice opponent will be enough to keep you on your toes (and the best way to learn without having your ego instantly crushed).


Choosing the Squabble players (playing against the computer)

When I began learning the game, the play went too quickly for me to really see how it was being played, so I chose to have 2 computer generated players oppose each other so that I could watch how they made their moves. This tactic went a long way in helping me grasp the fundamentals of the game.

The game is very customizable as well. You can change the game board background, the minimum size of formed words, the number of total letters available during the game, and the length of time before a new letter is revealed. It also includes options for defining words and editing word lists. I found that the default word list worked just fine for me.


Squabble game board (stone background)

The game board looks similar to the board used for Scrabble, and the letters used in the game look similar to the letter tiles in Scrabble. There is even a Scrabble-like rack which you will use to form your words. But there ends the resemblance to Scrabble. Game play begins with letters randomly showing up on the board. You form words of four or more letters using these tiles (the number of letters required per word is configurable). Sounds pretty easy so far, doesn't it?

Here comes the tricky part - you may also form words by "stealing" words from your opponent, and using all of the letters from the stolen word to form a new, different word. You must rearrange the letters in the stolen word to form a new word; which may include new letters from the board. The new word must contain at least all of the original letters, but cannot contain a form of the stolen word. For example if your opponent has made the word RACE you may not simply add a G to make the word GRACE, or add a D to make RACED. You may rearrange and add a Z to make CRAZE or rearrange and add an S to make CARES. You may use words you have created to make new words. You may also steal more than one word to make a new word.

The object of the game is to score the highest points before time runs out. You always get the value of the letters of words formed (similar to Scrabble), and you also get bonus points, 10 points for forming a word, 20 points for stealing a word, and 5 points for forming a new word from one of your existing words. If you have a word stolen, you lose the value of the letters, but not any bonus points earned on that word.

Once you think you have the knack of the game, you may then venture out into the real world and play Squabble over the internet against other human players. Three words of advice - practice, practice, practice. The Internet players are really good! Squabble uses Gamesmith to connect to the internet, and you can either start up a new game and wait for people to join, or join an open game. While playing (or in-between matches), you can chat with the other players. When I tried some internet games, I found that other players are usually very friendly and willing to help novice players learn the game, including giving tips on how to find and form words.

The help files for the game are well written and very helpful. The help menu is easy to navigate, and selecting CONTENTS from the menu will open a window on your desktop displaying hypertext links to the help selections.

Summary
Squabble is an intriguing game for anyone who likes to play with words. This game is well designed, very stable, and full of just the right options. Given the game premise, I cannot think of a single way to improve it. The premise is easy, but it takes a quick mind and eye (not to mention good keyboard skills - my personal downfall) to play well. Each game presents a new challenge based on the skill level you choose for your opponent, and the skill level you choose for game play. Since the letters always appear randomly, no two games can ever be alike. Playing on the internet is a real blast. I invite any Mac Guild members to join me in a game or two when you get the chance. You'll love it!

Pros

  • Interesting and unique twist on a word game
  • Simple interface
  • Completely customizable
  • Excellent help files


Cons

  • It ain't as easy as it looks!

Overall Rating

5 out of 5 Mice