Boy, it’s been a while since I’ve thought about this game.
Welcome to another PC game video. This is the late 90s PC adaptation of the tabletop game, and actually happens to be one of the first games I ever got in a cereal box (though this one is of the standalone release). There is surprisingly next to no footage of this adaptation anywhere on YouTube, so…why not?
I’ll let you know right now, I’m not very good at this game. In fact, watching back through this after finishing, it’s surprising how much pressure being watched and having a clock over your head puts on you. When you’re not pressed for time, it’s a lot easier to find words that I missed out on. Anyway, the general format of this video was that I went through each of the five included game modes once in Original mode, then did it again in Master, though the second time I was a bit more varied in whether I let the computer do it or if I played with other AI players.
Mode by mode comments, Original
Classic: The original game that everyone knows. By default, it’s straightforward — find every word you can in 3 minutes. As a rule of thumb, I don’t add any words that aren’t in the game’s built-in dictionary (fun fact: When I played this game as a kid before I knew how to spell, I would always just put in seven-letter jumbled messes of words and add them and get a ridiculous score). This one is basically just a “go nuts for three minutes” rapid fire round, no strategy to it or anything.
Breakaway: Since cubes that are used in spelling words vanish, this one has a bit of strategy — try knocking out the less commonly used letters first so that you don’t screw yourself over when you have fewer to work with. I hesitate to spell common words early in the game as it can have a potential impact on your score if you’re not careful. This one is actually best played with no timer to see how far you can get.
Battle: Basically Boggle on a chess timer. This one is really fun, and you could even play this one in real life if you wanted to. I pitted myself up against an intermediate computer, and I did absolutely horribly. He steamrolled me into oblivion, ending with a score almost double mine. This one is a *serious* time crunch which makes it really hard for me to concentrate and think straight. One thing worth stating is that the AI never rotates cubes in this mode, not even on the highest difficulty, which can be used quite strategically to get a more or less common letter depending on the state of the board.
Space: Imagine the old starfield screensaver but with Boggle cubes. That’s this mode in a nutshell.
In Your Face: By far my favorite mode. It’s very frantic and there’s a ton of strategy involved in trying to remove less common letters as quickly as possible. This one is surprisingly addictive and I find myself coming back to this one more often than not just to see how long I can last.
Classic: So, in Master mode, it’s basically the same, except the cube array dimensions are increased from 4 to 5, and now the minimum word length is 4 instead of 3. It heightens the difficulty quite significantly, especially in Space and In Your Face. For this one it only tends to make the game marginally more difficult. For this case, though, I decided to give the AI a turn at playing and set him to “Mr. Boggle” — basically, the “perfect” AI difficulty. It automatically finds the longest word (in the game’s dictionary) currently on the field, and puts it in, and works its way down. If you set the time to infinite, he’d eventually end up with an exact duplicate of all the available words. Because there’s no unpredictability, however, it’s not really as fun to watch as you might think, and he tends to screw himself over on Breakaway mode as he winds up putting himself in a place where he can’t make any more moves. Still, I thought it would be fun to show off just once.
Breakaway: Decided to let the otehr three computer player difficulties play in the background while I hacked away. They all did surprisingly abysmally though; I mean, that’s not to say I did particularly good, but the fact that I even beat the Advanced AI is kind of laughable.
Battle: Since the previous round went so poorly, I decided to just let two Advanced AI players duke it out (it might have been a little more fun to see how two Mr. Boggles would play out, but eh). Also, in the middle of the round, I decided to change the music to random since there’s a bunch of other music tracks you don’t otherwise get to hear by default.
Space: Oy, this did NOT go well. It went so poorly in fact that I decided to play another round of Original to compensate.
In Your Face: The need of another letter makes this mode signifantly more difficult, as a lot of the ways to dispose of less common letters aren’t going to save you. Predictably, this round didn’t go too well.
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