Go buy Scribblenauts right now
Seriously, before reading the article. I’ll wait.
The problem with Scribblenauts is that I can’t really review it objectively. After seeing several preview videos and reading interviews with the game’s creators, I made my mind up a long time ago that this Nintendo DS title was going to be awesome, wonderful and a spectacle heretofore unknown to man. Should I be surprised that my convictions have been overwhelmingly confirmed? Well, let me tell you a little bit about it and then you can answer that question for yourself.
First of all, the premise to Scribblenauts couldn’t be simpler. You play as Maxwell who for reasons unknown, has been tasked with gathering little objects called “starites.” It doesn’t matter why. All you need to know is that once you grab the starite, the level ends. Unfortunately, some starites are guarded by sharks in an underwater cavern and some are on a really high cliffs and some are only available once you help someone solve a problem they’re having. Fortunately, Maxwell has some kind of magic notepad.
And this is where it gets interesting. See, most puzzle games give you something with which to solve the puzzle and then let you figure out. Scribblenauts gives you a puzzle and then steps back as you try to decide what you need. All you do is tap the touch screen to bring up the notepad and type in the name of something, anything that might help you solve the problem.
For instance, let’s take the example of a star guarded by sharks; what do you do? Well, maybe you type in “submarine,” get in it and simply barrel through the sharks. Or maybe you type in “mermaid” and then you give her a “trident” and while she’s distracting the sharks you ride your newly-spawned “dolphin” to victory.
In all honesty, the game is only limited by what you can think to do with it. The availability of in-game objects is truly staggering and while it is possible to stump the system, you have to really try in order to do so.
But the really amazing thing is that, some control issues and physics quirks aside, Scribblenauts really works. Some of the puzzles are downright maddening and what makes it all the more amusingly frustrating is that you have almost the whole world at your fingertips.
In fact, if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend hours on the title screen, which functions as a sort of free-roaming playground. I don’t know about you, but putting “God” on a “pogo stick” with “Excalibur” and a “monocle” and having him fight a “super-villain” armed with a “bazooka” riding “pegasus” never gets old.
If you’re looking for something delightfully refreshing in a sea of sequels and rehashes, Scribblenauts might be just the thing you never knew you’ve always wanted.