Review: Quarrel (Xbox Live Arcade)

By Wayne Webb

Easily one of my favourite games on the XBLA service, one that is fun to play, taxes the mind as well as the thumbs. Quarrel is a variant of Scrabble, or the online behemoth Words With Friends. You get a scramble of eight letters and have to make the best word you can from them.

Presented in a nice Risk-esque game style, you have a map of territory and you are bordering other players. You have a front you can defend, or you can attack neighbours depending on the amount of troops you have. Each trooper represents a letter and therefore if you have five then you have to make a five-letter word. When you are outnumbered you not only have to make a better word with more obscure (and worth more points) letters, but you also have to contend with a clock ticking down and the word IQ of your CG opponent (or online real person).

Often I found that while I really enjoyed playing this game as I have a fast brain and good vocabulary, the CG opponents go from average to insanely good in a few short levels, which had me pausing, looking up anagram apps on my smartphone and cheating to get to a more reasonable opponent. Likewise online, I suspect I am not the only one doing this as it seems we all have amazing vocabularies.

The game itself is fun, fast and has plenty of variations. The troops cheer and shout as they move, jump up and down as they win and make a satisfying thunderous cheer when you make the full eight-letter anagram (even more gratifying if you haven’t cheated to get it).

Even if you need assistance with some opponents there is still strategy required and the game is far from won if you happen to have an anagram generator nearby. Each word you or your opponent uses is explained and the meaning displayed so you might even learn a thing or two – even for the scrabble nerds among us.

Pros: good brain exercise, nice fun design, gratifying sound and rewards, Risk type game style.
Cons: Opponents too quick and smart, online can be as easily cheated as offline.

4 Shacks Out Of 5

 




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