Review By: Siou Choy
|# Of Players:||1 (2-4 online)|
Quarrel is an extremely fun (if extremely frustrating) game from the developers at Denki. Essentially, what you get here is a bizarre hybrid of Scrabble and Risk, after being dumbed down for the rappin’ crowd and populated with incredibly cute characters. The fact that a professional writer found it reasonably hard to beat a thug life gold chain and cornrow-touting doofus named “Malik” kind of says it all about what’s wrong with the game…the fact that we kept going back to play it says a lot about how cute, addictive and ultimately harmless it all is in the end.
The Scrabble side of Quarrel comes in how you have to score the highest value word from what appears to be a random selection of letters. These letters are actually an anagram of an eight letter word. Unfortunately, you’re never given enough people to use that solved anagram in and of itself, so you’re stuck making unrelated, shorter words from whatever 8 letter word you’ve been given.
On the Risk side, think of Quarrel as a military strategist land grab, but with really cute characters fighting on your behalf, and with words instead of tanks and guns. You can only win the section of land in question if you launch the attack - if you’re defending, you get squat (other than stealing a few men from your opponent). The winning team throws the letter tiles at their opponents or beats the enemy down with the tiles in a rather silly manner – there’s lots of goofy, harmless laughs to be found in this game.
Quarrel begins with the computer dividing the land into several subdivisions. Each area is then populated with groups of incredibly cute natives, pirates, ninjas, army types, aliens, robots, opera singers and so on – each opponent is assigned a given group of characters, and land is divided into predetermined, staggered groupings among players (from 2 to 4 players en toto).
Your word choices are further limited by the number of creatures defending the block of land in question. So if you have 5 valkyrie/opera singers, your word cannot be larger than 5 characters. This makes defending your land extremely difficult when you wind up in the all too common situation of having a mere 2-3 defenders against your opponent’s 7. Further, this limits gamers to the simplest of words, when a given anagram is easily solved or contains lengthier, better word choices. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing what the anagram is and not having enough characters to spell it out – and trust me, it’s VERY rare when you have all 8 characters on a given block of land to make use of a solved anagram. Worse, you’re at the mercy of an extremely brief timer, with all too frequent ties in score decided by who answered first…which means that against the computer, it’s nearly impossible to win a tie.
While this seems like a great game to play with friends…(buzzer noise) tough sh**, buddy. In keeping with the now standard gaming system greed paradigm, you can not play it locally, unless you each have a system and monitor you want to hook up. That duly noted, in this case it wouldn’t work anyway: the word you’re trying to spell out shows onscreen, which is not something you’d want your opponent to see. So unfortunately, you’re once again given a party game where you’re strictly limited to online multiplayer and battles against the computer. And the computer? Cheats like crazy. I’ve had numerous instances where I owned every location but one, only to have the computer fight its way out of certain defeat to win the game – usually based on ties (as discussed earlier), or my personal favorite, actually beating you in a 7 on 3 matchup by using a made up word with letters of high value (I’ll get to the non-standard use of the English language in a minute).
As you may have picked up from my reference earlier, the use of the (incredibly short) timer, rather than “adding to the challenge,” really takes away from the game. You find yourself rushing any word option, however weak in points, in a generally vain attempt to beat the computer on time in case of a tie. This stratagem usually backfires, since the computer will automatically come up with words of the highest possible point value. Without this added pressure, or a second after hitting “submit,” I inevitably find a better scoring word than the one I’d submitted in my race against the clock. Admittedly, no one wants to sit around for 10 minutes while their opponent figures out a word, but the extreme brevity of the timer forces gamers into poor choices almost every time.
Posted: 2012-02-02 18:10:24 PST