Games That Don’t Suck: Scramble With Friends

This is not the first time I have been complimented on my boner.

Today’s game that doesn’t suck is the latest offering from that evil empire known as Zynga icon (makers of the Chess With Friends, Words With Friends and Hanging With Friends games). It’s called Scramble With Friends (iTunes: $2.99 – Universal) or (FREE – with ads). At its heart, just as Words With Friends is a Scrabble rip-off and Hanging With Friends is a Hangman clone, Scramble with Friends appears to be more or less a Boggle rip-off, but a nice one, with some fun social gameplay. Basically you get a grid of letters and try to create as many words as you can in two minutes by dragging your fingers across connecting tiles. The longer the word, the more points, and point values go up in each of three successive rounds.

So yes, the gameplay is simple, but what makes Scramble With Friends fun, just like the other Zynga games, is the ability to challenge your friends (or complete strangers if you have no friends) to matches and hopefully make yourself feel superior to them. Like all Zynga games the graphical polish to the games is top-notch (as far as a game like this goes) and the sound effects are nice too. As with the other “With Friends” games, you can either sign in with an e-mail address, or via a Facebook account. The Facebook signup makes it easy to see which of your friends are already playing Scramble With Friends and invite them to play, but it isn’t necessary.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Zynga game if they didn’t try to squeeze more money out of you, and Scramble With Friends has a somewhat annoying token system going for it that originally had me so pissed I was about to list it as a game that DID suck until they quickly released an update which, while not ideal, certainly is an improvement. Basically, in order to play a game, you need to use “a token”. You are given 15 free tokens at the start of the game, and these tokens regenerate for free over time (1 token every 10 minutes in the PAID version, and 1 token every 20 minutes in the free version). Originally even the paid version took 20 minutes to regenerate tokens, and you had less of them. This seemed like a real money grab for a somewhat expensive game by puzzle-standards ($2.99), and I while could understand gouging the users of the FREE version, when I buy an App, I feel I should be able to play it, no matter what. I don’t (usually) mind if a developer charges extra for power-ups, extra levels, etc, but the core ability to PLAY the game should be included in that price. Other Zynga titles allow you to use real money to buy tokens or coins to help you win against your friends or in the case of Hanging With Friends, buy character customizations, but they are never necesary in order to simply PLAY the game.

In the case of Scramble With Friends, each game costs you ONE token, and that token allows you to choose one of THREE special powerups that can help you increase your score. The first is a time freeze, which as you might suspect, gives you a few extra seconds on your clock to try to find words. The next is a board flip, which does not rearrange the tiles, but it DOES rearrange how you look at the board which, surprisingly, makes a big difference sometimes. The third power-up is basically the cheating power-up, and I never use it because I am a purist (likewise I never use the hints in Hanging With Friends because I am the perfect human being). This power-up shows you three decent words you’ve missed, and I personally feel that it’s cheating, but whatever, some of you weaker-minded people might need to rely on that crutch. For each game, you are allowed to use up to TWO of these power-ups – the first is free, the next costs you another one of your tokens, potentially making each game cost TWO tokens to play. This is still not “real” money, but it DOES mean that if you are as insanely popular as I am and have many games going at once, you will find yourself running out of tokens as you can really play about 20 games in a row (each game is two minutes, and allowing for token regeneration during those games) if you do not use any additional power-ups. If you DO want to use both time freeze and the board rotation, then you are down to about 10 games.

This limiting system will probably only annoy you if you have many concurrent games going at the same time, and honestly, even 10 games means I will have been playing Scramble with Friends for over 20 minutes, and odds are there’s something else I should be doing, so in a way it serves as a built-in “Don’t be a loser” alarm, but still, the idea of not being able to start a new game with someone on a game I have paid for is annoying.

Still, I must recommend this game, and while you can certainly feel free to give the free version a spin, my recommendation alone should be enough to have you rushing to the app store as we speak. BTW, my username is “Dr Macenstein“.

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Comments
18 Responses to “Games That Don’t Suck: Scramble With Friends”
  1. Rob says:

    Nice screenshot you have there Doc…
    39 Amazing! Boners

  2. E says:

    The game is pretty fun however, it is super lame that once you run out of tokens you have to wait 20minutes for one or pay for more. I have noticed on several occasions that they did not give me a token even after the 20 minute countdown. I think they try to aggravate you so you beak down and purchase them. Under no circumstances will I be purchasing tokens.

    • Rob says:

      This is true of every single game Zynga has developed. It would be nice if Apple cracked down on these “free” games and told them…hey, your game is not free if you require people to purchase items in-game. There are a lot of games out there that do similar scams…in order to be competitive…you need good gear…in order to get the good gear….you have to buy it with real money. I can see it getting worse and worse with these games that you feel you have to make the purchase as you have invested way too much time in the game to stop. One of the big reasons I stopped playing these iOS games and just stick to good ole fashion games on my Mac, Windows or one of my consoles. My iOS devices are strictly for porn now.

  3. FriendlyGhost says:

    I love the game, but I hate the fact that I’m stuck waiting for people to play their turns. Do you know how to delete games once you’re maxed out? I can only “resign” when it’s my turn.

  4. disappointed says:

    This app’s token system SUCKS!!! …It sucks off the fun once your token is depleted, it sucks to wait for 10 minutes for a single token before you can continue to play on paid version, definitely not for multiple concurrent games or it will make a sucker out of you!

    This game SUCKS!

  5. Steve Poley says:

    Nice game but the original Scramble Squares is more challenging. Just wish Scramble Squares could add competitive play.

  6. Kyle says:

    If you run out of tokes that only means you play wayyyy to much. Get a life

  7. Hurm says:

    Deleted it after ran out of tokens, unbelievably stupid token system

  8. bored mom says:

    I totally agree with you. I am so hooked on this game but now, i have to wait for 20 minutes just to get 1 crappy token, and i have three games standing by…no way i am buying tokens just to b able to continue playing

  9. Scranbler says:

    If you need tokens, just forward your clock on your device. After which you can return back to the current time. However you will not gain extra tokens but you can kind of “play forward”. Its helpful especially when you know you won’t be playing for the next couple of hours and your token will replenish. Meaning if you forward your clock for an hour, you get extra 6 tokens (for paid apps), if you bring the time back, you will not get any tokens for the next hour but its cool…

  10. sunnybw says:

    how do you gift tokens to someone?

  11. nan says:

    Well, ALL the powerups are cheating. Not just the inspiration one. You can’t rearrange the tiles on boggle and you have time to find words already so stopping the clock is cheating just as much as using the word finder is.

    • well, it doesn’t re-mix the letters, just flips the board.
      and yes, I suppose adding 10 seconds or so could be counted as cheating, but when you are playing strangers you kind of need to assume they are using some powerups as well, and that is the lesser of all evils to me as it is still YOUR brain coming up with the words.
      – The Doc

  12. Sally says:

    I have friend who says they have over 25 tokens. They don’t use cheats. Is it possible to accumulate that many WITHOUT buying??? Mine never go past 15, ever.

  13. Rhonda says:

    I kept wondering if I was getting shorted on the tokens. I haven’t played for days on the paid version and I only had 5 bonus tokens waiting for me. Does anyone know what I’m doing wrong? Do I have to have the app open to be accruing tokens?

  14. Hotjoe85 says:

    I never ever use cheats and I’m thinking that may be why I have 65 bonus tokens. I like to play Ruzzel. It’s the same thing only with no tokens and no cheats. I feel like it registers my words faster too so I can get a ton of points per round. I’ve had a lot of problems with scramble crashing and not registering my words and have never had problems with Ruzzel. Check it out… It’s a free app. What’s there to lose?!

  15. Baxby_lyn says:

    If you buy tokens and you have a full rack, do you still accumulate the free one?

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