Azed software has compacted a twenty thousand word dictionary (not Lloyd's!) so that it will fit into the Spectrum ' s memory and still leave some room for a program to access it. The company has produced three tapes based on their lexicon, each containing two games. Xo-Word and Anagrams is the first to reach CRASH Towers.
As its name implies, Anagrams delivers lists of words from the characters you give it to work on, displaying them on screen. Individual words, names or phrases consisting of between four and twenty characters can be input and the program can be configured to dump the results of its efforts onto a printer for later reference. Two further options are available. Wordlist provides an alphabetical list of all the words from the dictionary in memory that can be created with characters in the string you have given the computer Scrabble fans take note! Alternatively, selecting the Anagrams option forces the program to attempt to use all the characters in your input string in one go. Much of the output is gibberish if you try to make a sentence from it a little human filtering is necessary if you're after a witty anagram. A subtract option allows characters to be removed from the string if you spot a particularly neat substring you'd like to build on with the remaining letters.
In tests, when Anagrams was used to scramble the names of some of the CRASH team, some very interesting combinations were produced. Gary Liddon for instance produces 'an odd girly', and Clive Marles Sinclair (not a CRASH staffer) produces the slightly cruel 'cries in a small vile car'. Azed have tweaked their dictionary just a little bit to encourage some funnier output, and some very interesting phoenetical anagrams can result. Naughty words have been removed from the dictionary so smart alecs keying in Spiro Agnew won't be rewarded in quite the way they expect!
The flip side of the cassette contains a word game, Xo-word which is a cross between Scrabble and noughts and crosses, played against the computer. A 4x4 grid occupies the left hand part of the screen with each cell containing a letter. Both players start with a rack of seven letters selected at random and take turns to choose a cell and make a word of four letters or more which includes the letter in the grid. At the start of your turn you must select a square by moving the cursor into it with the arrow keys and then attempt to claim it. Success leads to the player's token an 0 or an X being entered in the grid and the word appears in the table on the right of the screen.
The aim of the game is to claim a line of four grid positions before the computer. A cell can be reclaimed from the opposition but you have to add to the letters in the word that 'occupies' that grid position and come up with a longer word. Pressing P allows you to pass a turn and change some or all of the letters in your rack by keying in the ones you want to change followed by ENTER, while a press of the J can provide a helping hand by jumbling the letters in your rack.
This is really quite an interesting and well put together little package from a small outfit. I found the Anagrams program the most entertaining, and couldn't resist going through the names of all my friends (and enemies) seeing what the program would come up with. le and crossword fans will no doubt be able to put it to more serious use. The game on the other side of the tape was quite challenging, but it's a shame there isn't a two player option. Being a word game, there's not much in the way of graphics, but the screen is used well. Maybe £5.95 is a little expensive, but a lot of work must have gone into sorting out the dictionary, so I suppose it's hardly a rip-off.
I can't be bothered with word games like Scrabble, so I wasn't all that keen when given this program to review. Xo-word didn't change my mind about word games - they're not for me - but I had fun with Anagrams. There's a limit to the amount of laughs you can have out of getting the computer to make up silly phrases for you, though, and I doubt I'll keep coming back to this one. For me, £5.95 is a bit steep but I can see that some people keen on wordgames would find this tape a good buy.
Anagrams is definitely fun. Just load and go! I enjoyed the word game on the other side too, although the presentation was a bit basic and unexciting- it could have done with prettier graphics and maybe a bit of sound to jolly it up. Perhaps there wasn't room with that huge dictionary, I don't know. Overall not bad value if you like word games, and I look forward to seeing the other tapes that Azed are doing.