Scrabble Electronic Catchphrase is a “refreshed” version of classic Catchphrase. The colors are different. The words and phrases that you try to get people to guess are new. But the game is the same wonderful party game it has always been.
We wrote about it 2002, and again in 2005. It was refreshed once more in 2010. And now again in 2012. It looks more refreshed now than. And what proves to be even more refreshing is that it’s the same game, and just as fun as it was 10 years ago when we first reviewed it – as follows (refreshed):
The game itself is readily understood because it is in fact a combination of hot potato and password. You try to get your team to guess the word or phrase on the LCD display (now backlit and easy to read). In the mean time, a timer is sounding. As soon as anybody on your team guesses correctly, you hand it off to the next player, who is on the other team. Meanwhile, the timer, the other player, and the other team are all getting more frantic. As soon as they guess it, they hand it off, etc., etc., et not much more cetera, because the timer isn’t very long, and when it goes off, if your team happen to be the one that’s holding it, the other team gets the point.
You have to press a button to tell the computer that the other team won (a good opportunity to manifest sportspersonlike behavior whilst massaging more salt into your conceptual wound). When the timer runs out, it buzzes two annoying times, rubbing in both victory and defeat. The next round begins with the selection of a new category, or not. And so it goes, until one team reaches 7 points. A brief musical fanfare proclaims the end of the game.
This game is most definitely fun. Way more fun than you think you could get out of an electronic gadget. The hot potato part adds tension and makes scoring feel very easy and natural. Because you don’t get points for guessing correctly (you just pass the pod to next player), the focus remains on the complete round of play rather than on a single correct guess. This makes the whole game even more fun. Because your team is working together to guess (yes, this is one of those more-the-merrier games that could easily accommodate twenty or even more players), there’s a wonderful sense of teamwork that transcends individual performance, again making the game even more fun. Being able to select a new category at the beginning of each round provides a good break, adds a bit of information, a sense of control, and is totally optional. And there are so many words and phrases (now 1500), and it’s all so elegantly designed that you don’t need to come up with variations to keep it fun, but, if you want to, there’s nothing stopping you. Younger kids might have difficulty with some of the vocabulary, but if you’re playing with a mixed age group, you don’t need to get so serious about the competition that you can’t find a way to make the game fun for everyone.