Game Guys review - Scribblenauts Unlimited

12:07 PM, Dec 31, 2012   |    comments
  • 'Scribblenauts Unlimited' from developer 5th Cell.
  • 'Scribblenauts Unlimited' for Nintendo 3DS.
  • 'Scribblenauts Unlimited' from developer 5th Cell.
  • 'Scribblenauts Unlimited' for Nintendo 3DS.
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Developer 5th Cell's original Scribblenauts game gained it popularity a while back by allowing players to unleash their imagination and include whatever they can think into the game at the player's whim.  The game just begs for creative thinking.  Scribblenauts Unlimited, a follow-up title to the 2009 and 2010 DS/mobile games, expands upon the original, though it's not nearly as "unlimited" as its title might suggest.

Scribblenauts Unlimited brings back protagonist Maxwell and introduces his sister.  It also provides a little background on Maxwell's magical notebook, which those who played the original game should appreciate.  In this new game, Maxwell and his sister venture out into the world with the simple goal of helping people.  It doesn't go quite as planned, sadly, as his sister has a spell cast upon her slowly turning her to stone.  To save his sister, Max must solve puzzles -- helping people along the way as originally intended.

Just like the original game, the bulk of the gameplay comes from opening up Maxwell's magical notebook and inputting nouns and adjectives to create an item.  Think of this as video game 'Mad Libs', but instead of creating prospectively goofy sentences, players create things by writing nouns and can modify things by adding adjectives.  For example, you could create a hammer to strike a nail, or you could create an awesome (or big, small, etc.) hammer to do the job; and, yes, these adjectives can matter.

While the game does have some light platforming elements, logical word puzzles are still the main emphasis in Unlimited.  The word "unlimited" in the title, however, is a bit misleading as the game's vocabulary isn't as unlimited as one might like.  For example, the game didn't know the word "watering can".  That stated, there are times where the player might find himself impressed by some of what the game does know as well as what actually works.  As another example, in a fairly early-on puzzle players are asked to add something relevant to a museum exhibit featuring Cleopatra.  Inputting "Asp" created the poisonous snake that felled the Queen of the Nile, thus finishing the puzzle.

Scribblenauts Unlimited features the same sort of cartoony look and attitude that the original game had.  This time, however, the game is released onto Nintendo 3D-capable 3DS.  Sadly, it rarely takes advantage of the system's 3D capabilities.  Cut-scenes are 3D-enabled, but actual gameplay is presented purely in 2D.  The upper, 3D-capable screen is used strictly for cut-scenes and keeping tabs on the player's puzzle-solving prowess.  All of the action takes place on the 3DS's touch-sensitive lower screen.  While it makes perfect sense from a controls and gameplay standpoint as to why things were set up the way the are, it would have been nice to see the 3DS' capabilities used to a much larger extent.

Amusing and intuitive, Scribblenauts Unlimited is a good second step for this WBIE-published series.  The game's vocabulary might not be as unlimited as the player's imagination, but it still provides many good, fun, kookey, and interesting solutions for problems ranging from a cat stuck in a tree to a zombie invasion and more.  The only real sad thing about this 3DS version in comparison to its Wii U sibling is that this version lacks the heavily advertised item creator tool allowing players to create and add to the game their own items.  Had Scribblenauts Unlimited been packed with that tool, the lack of items such as a watering can wouldn't had even been a problem.  C'est la vie.

Final Game Guys grade: B

(This game was privately obtained for review.)


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