Scribblenauts ReviewSolve all your problems with gorillas, shrink-rays and bulldozers!
Imagine if your favorite videogame characters had the ability to request anything they needed to finish the game. Mario could summon Fire Flowers, Master Chief would receive unlimited rocket launchers and Darth Vader's Death Star III would be up and readyto blast some pesky rebels. 5th Cell has gone over and beyond to fully flesh out this wildly innovative concept in Scribblenauts for the Nintendo DS.
The goal of Scribblenauts is to test the player's creativity to complete puzzles that range from kindergarten-grade simple to mind-bendingly tough by summoning whatever you can think of. Thousands of items, including animals, weapons, clothing, vehicles, and all sorts of imaginative things are summoned by typing with the stylus or writing out the word on the touchscreen. For example, if you type in "S-T-E-G-O-S-A-U-R-U-S" a friendly blue stegosaurus appears in the stage. Whether or not you would actually NEED a stegosaurus is irrelevant, as at least one third of your playtime will consist of testing out the game's vocabulary to spawn as many things as you can to see how many secrets the game holds. With thousands and thousands of hidden gems, inquisitive typists will be occupied for hours. (If I keep mentioning "stegosaurus" during the review, it's only because I want to keep as many words a surprise for you as I can!)
While summoning dinosaurs on a whim is fun, it won't get you very far unless it can help you solve the game's puzzles! Each of the ten themed worlds in the game features eleven action and puzzle levels each focusing the player's attention on collecting a Starite.
Grabbing the Starite with as few typed objects as possible or using "out of the box" methods will greatly improve your score, but solving the fiendishly clever trials was enough of a reward for me. Puzzle mode levels force you to complete a certain task before the Starite appears, while action levels set the Starite out in the open and it is up to you to overcome every obstacle along the way to pick up the treasure.
Everyone who plays Scribblenauts will naturally solve the puzzles differently than others, making it as much of a treat to finish the game as it is to watch someone attempt to. One of the puzzles requires you to save a cat from a tree and reunite the feline with its owner. I could've called upon a "ladder" or a few crates to make a climbable stack to retrieve the cat, but I typed in "elephant." This allowed me to ride the beast up to the tree, pluck the scared kitty from the tree and hand it to the thankful lady to earn me the Starite. I was so impressed with the game's many options, I asked my mother to give the same puzzle a try. She made me type in "rock" and throw it at the poor cat… Although the cat fell from the tree, I wasn't rewarded with the Starite for her indelicate suggestion. This is proof that Scribblenauts mileage will vary depending on your natural creativity levels.
Scribblenauts is a visual treat and while all of the characters, objects and worlds
are as wildly different as they are in real life, everything has the same "children's storybook" simplistic charm. While it may be jarring to place the stegosaurus in say, a suburban setting, its segmented body, animation and colors reflect the themes of the Scribblenauts universe. While this is not an impressive feat for most games, the design themes are extremely consistent considering it is a title that allows players to instantly call on thousands of things.
The sole thing that hurts the revolutionary ideas of Scribblenauts is the wonky controls. Your character, (Normally the red-hatted Maxwell, but I choose the Robot character early on) is controlled by tapping an empty space in the level. My Robot would then run to that empty spot to pick up items, move through the stage, etc. This is fine for some of the less complicated levels, but when I'm trying to type, control on-screen items and my Robot's movements and actions, accidental deaths happen. It's not a deal breaker for Scribblenauts, but it is so frustrating to pull together every summoned item needed for the puzzle only to watch helplessly as my Robot calmly walks into the tiger pit when I've just made a special bridge made of planks, space shuttles and stegosauruses…
-Arnold B. Carreiro
Developed by 5th Cell
Published by Warner Bros
ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older
The Arnold B. Carreiro Rating System
A - Awesome! Why haven't you bought this yet? Go! GameStop doensn't close for another 2 hours!
B - Great game! It'll be something fun to play for a good while. It's better than most games, but shy of perfection for some reason. You should check it out!
C - Meh. It's not a BAD game, nor is it good. Enjoyment may be limited to a certain audience though. Perhaps some aspects of the title are great while others are bogged down by bad design/gameplay/etc.
D - Not too great... Too much of the game lacks polish to be appreciated to the general gaming public, but there might be enough here for someone to enjoy. Maybe...
F - A complete train wreck. Vampire Rain is the last "F" game I've ever played. The bargain bin is too good for an "F" game.