Don't let Scribblenauts' simple graphics fool you - this is an ambitious videogame. It's a puzzler at heart, presenting you with simple challenges which you, as Maxwell, must pass to earn Starites, using items to reach your goal. Sounds pretty generic, no? Ah, but the unique selling point here is that you can use virtually anything your imagination comes up with to succeed.
Simply bring up the onscreen keyboard, type in your required item, and there it is, ready to use. There's even text recognition, though it's not as easy to use as the keyboard. You can type in virtually anything - and that's where the fun lies:
But how does the game use all these items? Well, imagine you see a Starite sitting at the top of a tree. Type the word 'axe' into the on-screen keyboard, which Maxwell then uses to cut down the tree, bring the Starite with it. Or, you could type in 'Lumberjack' and a little lumberjack appears, picking up the axe and felling the tree for you.
But don't think you can get through the game using the simplest solution every time. Once you've used something in one level, you can't necessarily use it again. So for instance, to beat the above problem, you can type in 'Unicycle', 'Panda', 'Panda' again, 'Top Hat', 'Glue' and 'Plank'.
Sit one panda on the unicycle, the other panda on its shoulders, set the top hat on Maxwell, put glue on the top hat and stick the plank to it, then climb onto the top panda's shoulders. The unicycling panda approaches the tree and the plank knocks down the starite. Er... simple?
But how far does the item creation go? We're told there are thousands of words that can be put in, although some will produce the same results. For instance, 'hill' and 'small hill' both make a small hill. Nonetheless, it's very impressive. The game's visual style is a bit simplistic, but it's hard not to like. Especially when you type in 'Santa' and he starts throwing random toys at you, like Game Boys, Monopoly boards and... voodoo dolls. Yep, Santa's gone weird.
The game is set to be released this autumn. Until then, keep eating those imagination biscuits - you're going to need 'em.
10 July, 2009
Above: Play us out, Keyboard Cat