Scrabulous is an adaptation of the game Scrabble for the Facebook generation. You can play against your friends in Facebook, host an open table, or join a table.
The gameplay itself is basically online Scrabble with several bells and whistles to make it more approachable. You can use the online dictionary (generally frowned upon by purists) and the help section details the rules for those who don’t know it. You can’t play words that aren’t actual words, which makes “challenging” a bit redundant in my opinion. You can also skip turns, trade in scrabble blocks, and other subtleties of the rules. The help tab is very useful.
Hosting a table is easy – just set up what dictionary you want to use, the game speed, and whether the game is suitable for adults or people of all ages. The last decision seems trivial until you try joining a table. I found that I couldn’t find a game that was suitable for all ages, and when I changed my search to “adult” I found many of the games to by people wanting to chat “dirty.” Yes, each scrabble game has a chat feature and yes, it seems that Scrabulous has achieved some unfortunate notoriety… I guess people with big vocabularies are sexy.
It’s nice to be able to be able to play both your friends and random other people online and switch between games quickly. I played three games at once and probably could have handled more. When you’re playing with friends, the social pressure to continue makes the game very addicting. In how many other Facebook applications do friends email and IM you to take your turn?
The search feature could obviously be fixed so it was less buggy. But other than that there is very little criticism to level at this game. Adding bots would be nice, but next to impossible from a technical standpoint. How do you create an AI that generates words from random letters and doesn’t beat you easily?
One final note – the game has drawn a lot of flack recently because of its ongoing legal battle. Without touching on this political minefield, I will say that much of this game’s success is due to the popularity of the initial game of Scrabble. That said, without the hard work of the developers and some very clever features, the game would never have taken off. It’s a solid multiplayer game for people who like vocab words, strategy, and triple-word scores.
Developer’s Score: 7/10
Gameplay Score: 9/10
Odds this game will get shut down due to legal dispute: 5/10