#970 Scribblenauts

Posted: 18th April 2014 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , , ,

323th played so far

256px-Scribblenauts_coverGenre: Puzzle/Action
Platform: DS
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: 5th Cell
Publisher: WB Games

Now here’s a game we’ve been sitting on for a while. Scribblenauts was an early “you’ve got to try this” “Oh, I love it” shared experience between Peter and myself. We both got pretty far in. In fact, I believe Peter finished this and, after I got it him for Christmas days after we started this blog, he finished the sequel Super Scribblenauts within days.

It was because of how good Super Scribblenauts was that we never actually covered this through the fear that would be replaced by its sequel. However, the list makers did not seem to have put as much thought into this update as we would have hoped. Maybe they should just give us the honors and we’d make sure it was done properly… with a big debate in the local Byron and lots of alcohol.

After three years, it’s time to just finish this – bite the bullet and get it checked.

Our Thoughts

One of the big games we seem to be looking for as a future dream is the game where you can do anything. A Star Trek holodeck sort of thing, where you say what you want, program it, and it happens. We’re not exactly there yet, but Scribblenauts seems to have taken us a bit closer.

The central gameplay element of Scribblenauts is that you can summon any object. Type the name of any single object and the game will create it. There are apparently thousands of options (although obviously some share the same graphics and attributes) and it takes some trying to find objects the game won’t create. The sequels, by the way, add even more options – including the use of many adjectives to change the objects further.

ย Up to a point, these interact as well. It seems partially rule-based (wild monster chases played, this is a carnivore, this is a herbivore, this is red, that sort of thing), all done precise enough to feel natural and logical. Sure, occasionally it’s not entirely clear whether you can get away with certain things, but that’s rarely a main thing.

Your goal is to solve puzzles through summoning objects and using them to solve problems (“feed the dog”) or reaching goals (put out fires, build bridges and so on), all to collect starite, which you need to proceed through levels (although you can use ‘starite’ as an object to summon, usually that won’t work as the solution).

It’s a shame that there are a few solutions that solve an alarmingly large amount of puzzles. The most famous is probably the one that scares off any threat – just summon Death and mostly everyone will flee or be killed. Personally I just like to set in motion a battle to the death between Death, Medusa and Cthulu. In the sequel this became even better with the adjectives when the ultimate warrior was a zombie Cthulu.

The other flaw in the game are the controls. Manipulating the objects is a bit tricky anyway, but controlling Maxwell is quite a bit more annoying. You can’t move him around using the joypad, but instead need to tap the touchscreen to move. Which means that failing to select an object due to pickiness may cause your character to, say, walk from the edge of a cliff into lava. Not ideal.

Final Thoughts

The game has some issues, sure, but on the whole it’s a pretty fun puzzler, further enhanced by the sheer number of possibilities. Sure, a lot of the time you’d just go for Cthulhu and solve the puzzle through a certain brand of brute force, but the many different options are there to be used when you want them – or want to play around with them.

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