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Sunday, April 23, 2006


Games for people who don't like computer games: These usually fall into the puzzle genre.

It's only natural for someone like me to want to share something I enjoy like computer games with the people I care about. My parents live almost 6,000 miles away. What better way to keep in touch than to play games over the internet? The challenge: getting them to sit down at the computer and play. That aside, what game can I interest them with? Nothing too complicated, nothing with shooting, nothing with city management, um, that leaves board games converted into computer games. The first game I tried is Boggle: the dice game with letters. The box advertises internet play for up to 4 players, assuming you want to buy 4 copies of the game. I got mine at a discount store for $5. The disk can be shared in the same room for multiplayer, but not when your opponents are farther away in physical space. Now you have to drop another $5 to get someone to play with you. The box also advertises 4 new game styles, which I assumed you could also play over the internet. Not so, these are for single-computer play only apparently. When you try to play one of these new style games in multiplayer, an error pops up that says 'Insert CD', but when you do that, nothing happens.

The actual game play of the original-style Boggle game is kind of fun. You can type in your words and the board illuminates the letters as you go. It is much faster than writing them old-style on paper, and you can kind of cheat by hunting around for letter combinations that are hard to follow with your eyes but the computer knows are there. In internet-multiplayer mode you can't add computer opponents. And in all modes you play on a board-to-board basis, the scores are not accumulated, so you would have to do this by hand if you want a longer game. All-in-all "Boggle" is a fun game to play, but not surprisingly the computer version leaves the feeling as if something is missing -- maybe it's good game programming. I rate this game "not awful" if you can get someone to play with you and you don't have high expectations because 1) it successfully installed on the first try, 2) I got at least one game to work over the internet on the first try without reconfiguring network settings or firewalls, 3) It was $5 and I was bored, 4) my parents may at some point actually play it with me, and 5) it can be installed completely to a hard disk (if you don't want to play anything other than the original Boggle game) and is small enough to fit on a tiny laptop hard disk and passes time at the airport.

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