Words With Friends fans have Scrabble to thank for their crippling addictions. Scrabble is the O.G. word game that inspired the countless digital versions we all know and love today. Perhaps to keep up with the times, its maker, Hasbro, has come out with Scrabble Twist, a new digital, portable version of the game. While it looks fun to play and I could probably waste half a day, easily, playing it, Scrabble Twist lacks all the classic elements that made the original board game so popular. In fact, it hardly resembles the board game at all, but it does, however, resemble a pregnancy test quite a bit.
The handheld game, which can be played by up to eight people, is a much more fast-paced version, perhaps targeting the ADD generation. The device has five LCD touchscreens that each display a letter, which are generated randomly at the beginning of each round. Each player has 15 seconds to create a word with the letters by pressing them in sequential order and twisting the gadget to lock their word in place. Then they hand it to the next player, who must do the same. Words are automatically approved and points are automatically calculated, so it eliminates the need to have a dictionary on hand. (But isn't yell-daring someone to "look it up!" half the fun of Scrabble?)
The game can be played in three modes: party mode (for a group of players), turbo challenge (for two players), and solo (for yourself). The latter was designed to help players pass the time while commuting, sitting in a waiting room, or any other scenario that would require time killing. However, I'm pretty sure there's already a device that has this need covered — it's called a smartphone and it's 1000 percent more practical to carry around.
But let's go back to its appearance. Instead of referencing the aesthetics of the original board game, like those signature wooden tiles, Scrabble Twist is basically a jumbo Clearblue stick. It's especially uncanny when you hold it like this:
At $19.99, Scrabble Twist could be a treasured addition to any family's game arsenal, and it'll undoubtedly provide hours of entertainment for players. However, it's just such a departure from the original Scrabble that it barely deserves to share the Scrabble brand. The way it's designed goes against so many of the classic elements that make Scrabble so great.
When I think of Scrabble, I think of yelling at my friends who take too long to come up with words. I think of rolling my eyes at the clever ones who score high points with a strategically placed two-letter word. I think of myself gloating when I do the same. You can't take your time or form two-letter words with Scrabble Twist.
Maybe the best way to think of Scrabble Twist is that it's sort of like the Kindle to Scrabble's hard-copy books. It's perfect for a generation that's used to portable and digital everything, but purists are always going to prefer the touch of paper — or wood.