I found Jitters at a thrift store in Chicago and picked it up after a cursory glance at the rules and components. Upon playing, I was pleasantly surprised to find it a tense little word game with tight gameplay which creates an incredibly stressful atmosphere.
There are three main components to the game: A very loud timer, 12 letter dice, and 20 game cards with various blank crossword-puzzle like formations. Some of the game cards are worth more points than others.
The object of the game is quite simple: Roll the dice, and place them within your playing card so that they make legitimate words within the alloted time. You are allowed one "swipe," meaning you may rotate one die per roll in order to obtain a letter that wasn't previously available. If you are unable to form legitimate words, you are also allowed to reroll all 12 dice.
As with Scrabble and most other word games, legitimate words are anything that can be found in a dictionary as long as they are not proper nouns, hyphenated, apostrophed, acronyms, or prefixes/sufixes which cannot stand alone.
As if coming up with words on the spot isn't difficult enough, there is an additional twist when it comes to scoring. Once you finish your card, you have the option of trying another or stopping the timer. Should you choose to attempt another card, you HAVE to finish it before the timer runs out, or you score absolutely no points for that turn. After scoring, cards are reshuffled into the deck and players continue until someone reaches 250 points or more.
Despite my copy being used, the components are sturdy enough that they held up well. The artwork is cute, the dice hold up well, and the timer, well...
The timer in this game is loud. Very very loud. And you are informed that your time is up with a sharp, sudden, buzzing SNAP! of the gears which never fails to startle. What seems to be an easy task becomes absolutely herculean under the ticky tocky click click rattle BZZZZ! pressure of the timer.
Some have commented that they would have much preferred an inoffensive little sand timer for this game, but that would have taken away so much of the tension. As it is, I have seen word mavens turn into bumbling idiots when faced with the task of finding three letter words which intersect at various points.
There is very little player interaction in this game. In fact it is usually strongly discouraged by those who are in the midst of their turn. The rules state that you can also play the game on your own, but doing so turns the game into more of an exercise or brain-teaser.
Overall, Jitters is a very decent little game. It will appeal to word-lovers, crossword puzzle addicts, and scrabble hounds who don't mind ruthless pressure. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys timed word games such as Scattergories or Smart Mouth.