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The original Scribblenauts on Nintendo DS was a unique game that tried to shoehorn a primary gimmick (typing something out and having it appear in the game as an interactive, cartoony representation) into two different types of game: a platformer and a puzzle game. Several sequels later and you have Scribblenauts Unlimited. I’m reviewing the PC edition, due to a distinct lack of a Wii U.
The basic concept remains the same, but now the game is a puzzle game through and through. You go from world to world, solving people’s problems in almost any way you want. In fact, most of the fun comes from finding out the oddest way to solve an issue. Some of my solutions include giving a surgeon a sword to perform surgery with only to have his patient run off on him, and a UFO wanting ‘what they came for,’ so I gave them a President, at which point they happily took off. I hope we didn’t need that…
There are many self-contained worlds, each filled with single problems to solve, plus larger, multi-stage puzzles. I like how you can traverse the game via an over world map if you want, but most levels can be accessed from an exit on another level. It reminds me a lot of Paper Mario that way.
As fun as it can be to just type in words to see what happens, it’s always frustrating to hit a wall where the game either doesn’t produce the item you’re looking for or doesn’t recognize what you’re trying to type. There is a massive vocabulary to be had but naturally it’s not perfect. Not everything is unique, and putting a turkey in a cooking pot for a chef produces the same result as putting in a canary, hamburger or candy bar. That’s the point where the magic breaks down.
Getting much out of Scribblenauts Unlimited requires you to bring your imagination. Not to overcome design shortcomings but instead because just answering requests ‘straight’ is boring as hell. The fun comes from trying things out, experimenting with different scenarios to see what happens. If you’re not willing or interested in mucking around with the game’s generous sandbox you’ll be bored in no time. If any of what I’ve described sounds like fun, you should really give it a shot.
As a bonus, those vocabulary limits I mentioned don’t add up to much with the inclusion of item creation and the ability to use Steam Workshop to upload and share your creations. You can just make whatever you feel like the game is missing and assign it attributes, traits, behaviors and even special triggers so the item reacts to certain situations.
I really enjoyed Scribblenauts. It’s not the longest game, but it’s such an open-ended sandbox that creative types will continue to enjoy themselves. This is the pinnacle of the Scribblenauts series, and one that I recommend to anyone who has an active imagination.
|Allot of fun for creative types; Strong vocabulary; Item creation fills in vocabulary gaps||Some solutions aren't satisfying when they don't react to your unique solution; Short|