Review: Electronic Scrabble Flash – Can Making Words and Increasing Your Vocabulary Really Be Fun?

Scrabble Flash

Scrabble Flash

By Mary Ann Burniske

Dan here – This is part of our Real Dads (and Moms) Review The Top 16 Holiday Toys for 2010 series. We sent out the hot holiday toys to our members and in this series they are sharing their honest reviews before you waste any money on a flop! Want to get in on the fun next time – Join Us. Take it away, Mary Ann…

OK, the rest of Top Holiday Toys for 2010 list includes Nerf guns, dolls that sing, consrtuction kits, and we got to review …. a word game.  Did we get the short end of the stick?  Actually, no!

It’s Much Smaller Than Scrabble Deluxe

First, the packaging of the Scrabble Flash by Hasbro is deceiving.  It can fit in the palm of an adult’s hand once the packaging material is recycled.   As a Mom with lots of board games on the basement shelves, in closets, in the family room, you get the idea:  I appreciate a game that can be stored in a drawer (or a purse, or um, a Dad’s coat pocket).

Electronic Scrabble Flash is Travel Friendly

This game would be perfect to take on family vacations when it turns out not everyone is ready for departure to the day’s destination at the same time — you can play solo or with someone, and it will only take up ounces, not pounds, of those precious “allotted pounds” those airlines give you before charging extra.   I can envision this game coming in handy, too, when the wait for a meal at a restaurant takes a little too long.

It’s Less Daunting Than Scrabble Deluxe

When I bring out the big Scrabble board, Monopoly, Life, Sorry or even Connect Four, Scrabble stays in the “reject” pile.  When we opened the Electronic Scrabble Flash package my boys, 6 and 8 wanted to check it out immediately.

The 3 Ways to Play Scrabble Flash

There are five tiles, plus a storage box.  To start, you line up all 5 (or you can choose 4) tiles so that their sides are touching and you press each tile’s power button.  Then the tiles give you a choice of 1, 2, 3

Game 1: Scrabble Flash is what the instructions call this game.  After opting for “1” (pressing the power button on the tile that lights up with a “1”), the tiles will each have a letter; you must take these tiles and arrange them into 3, 4 or 5 letter words.  Each time you form a correct word, the tiles will beep and the letters on the tile flash to let you know you’ve “scored”.  You get bonus time (5 seconds) for each 5 -letter word you form (normal time for a round is approximately   seconds).  To let you know you’re almost done, the tiles will beep, and then about 5 seconds later, the tiles will show a clock face to signal the end of the game.  At the end, the tiles give you your score, one point for each word you form.  After your score, the tiles show the maximum possible score that could’ve been achieved with the letters you were given.

This sounds confusing, but this video will show it is pretty straightforward -

The closest my 8 year old has come to a perfect score is 13 out of 16.  It is a bit frustrating to not know what words you missed, but then again, I guess you could write down the letters you were given and work on it on paper for a while (if your 8+ year old is up for that challenge….).

What?? That Is A Real Word???

Some of the words that are formed are a bit odd, take the letters  S A E T U  — according to the game, there are 29 words that can be formed with these letters, two of those words: tau and taus — tau is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet, not sure if my 8 year old has learned that one yet in school.  Also surprisingly, the tiles accepted “SAE” as a word — does Webster’s recognize the abbreviation for self-addressed envelope as a word? Would a third grader be expected to know this?

Putting aside some of the oddities, my boys enjoyed seeing the strange words flash as being correct, and we even went to the dictionary to laugh about some of them (“GOA” was accepted when trying to make the word “GOAT”, do you know what GOA means?).  Words that you didn’t intend to make my result in the tiles flashing,  and you can learn new words.

Beware of Frustrated Younger Siblings!

Unlike other games that allow kids younger than the recommended age to have fun playing, this game could cause frustration for a 6 year old who is still sound spelling.  While mine did OK with the 4 letter word option (available for all game options, 1, 2 and 3) which allows you to score by making two letter words, the 5-letter word play typically resulted in single digit scores, when maximums are normally listed in the 20s.

Too bad there isn’t a feature that would allow parents to program the 5 letters a child can work with:  My first grader brings home “make a word” homework, where he has to cut out letter tiles and arrange words.  I could see homework time going much smoother with an electronic version to play around with.

But Wait, Don’t Order Yet – We Will Triple Size Your Scrabble!

Before summing up, I should add a bit about the other 2 games — one is a race to see how many 5 letter words you can spell with the letters given to you on the tiles, the third, for one or more players, involves a speed round of sorts.  Each player forms five letter words; you are eliminated if you run out of time before forming a word.  The last player remaining wins the game.

Conclusion on Electronic Scrabble Flash Cubes by Hasbro

I was worried that an electronic version of Scrabble was just going to be an unnecessary gimmick on a classic game.  In reality, Scrabble Flash is a new game – similar to Scrabble in some ways, but a very different game play.  Only with electronic titles could you get all 26 letters into 5 tiles.

While some of the correct words will leave your elementary school kid guessing, this is a toy that keeps the kids interested and learning and it is a great travel toy.  I would recommend Electronic Scrabble Flash.

FULL DISCLOSURE: We were crazy enough to buy this toy with our own money! We sent the toy out to Mary Ann to review – she gets to keep the toy and try to figure out if GOA is really a word? We received no money for doing this review and receive nothing if you do decide to buy the toy. This is a real review, by a real Mom (and her kids)!

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