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Super Scribblenauts review

AT A GLANCE
  • Create absolutely anything
  • Open approach to puzzle solving
  • Irate polka dot armadillos
  • Some sameyness in game puzzles
  • Vulgarity filter
  • Nintendo's star fetish

Before we jump headfirst into this whole “Super Scribblenauts review” business, let us engage in a brief history lesson. Developer 5th Cell released their original Scribblenauts game in 2009 to Nintendo DS gamers with mammoth expectations due to the gigantic amounts of hype the developer garnered at E3 of that year. The reason for this is that the game featured an ambitious concept where players could summon any sort of object they could think of (animals, people, buildings, kitchen utensils, whatever) by simply typing its name and could then use said objects to solve various puzzles. The game had a fanbase before it was even released.

Long story short, Scribblenauts made good on most of its promises; however, it also featured some of the worst movement mechanics to grace a Nintendo DS game. Players would move the game’s protagonist – Maxwell – around the level by tapping points on the touchscreen with their DS stylus. Basically, guiding Maxwell was akin to directing a drunken hippopotamus on a unicycle. This all but ruined the experience for most people.

Now, with a year gone by and Super Scribblenauts on store shelves, fans can dash into the streets and give praise to the gods, for Maxwell’s movement inputs have been mapped to the d-pad and face buttons!


Above: Set cows aflame in jubilation! 

Super Scribblenauts claims to bring 10,000 new words into its dictionary, which if you were actually able to make it all the way through the original Scribblenauts library of words to merit 10,000 new additions, we commend you (you sick freak). With the exception of anything considered vulgar or copyrighted, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a word that Super Scribblenauts’ system doesn’t recognize. What’s even more impressive is that the sequel comes equipped with an adjective system to modify your creations. You want to create a friendly zombie? Go for it. Need a fire-breathing striped badger? No problem.

The funny thing is that some gamers may not even get as far as the single-player campaign for the first few hours and just opt to mess around in the start screen seeing what can be conjured up from the veritable ether. Super Scribblenauts holds nothing back from the player. Anything can be unlocked simply by stretching the imagination (or having a Webster’s dictionary handy).

Just like in the original game, Maxwell’s goal is to collect “Starrite.” Likewise, each time you solve a puzzle, you are given “Ollars” which can be spent on in-game sprites that replace Maxwell as well as tips for completing particularly difficult puzzles (if you’re a big fat cheater).


Above: Maxwell helps a witch create a love potion 

Super Scribblenauts puts a new spin on the series by placing much more emphasis on puzzles than its predecessor. While the action levels where Maxwell must search for Starrite in various environments are not entirely gone, they now take a backseat in the overall experience.  In terms of design decisions, 5th Cell deserves high marks for this because the heavier puzzle-driven focus side steps a major issue that was present in the first game: the jet pack phenomenon. You see, all of the hazards placed in the action stages of the original Scribblenauts became entirely moot once you figured out that Maxwell could just strap on a jet pack and stay out of harm’s way. Not the case in Super Scribblenauts. This sequel forces the player into a type of open-minded, lateral thinking that isn’t often seen in other puzzle games.

While the game does suffer a small degree of “sameyness” in its large repertoire of puzzles, there really are some truly creative gems to be found. For instance, one puzzle places you in a prehistoric-themed level filled with dinosaurs and tasks you with bringing about their extinction. The amount of possible solutions are staggering. We started a flu epidemic from a diseased rainbow unicorn.

Super Scribblenauts doesn’t feature conventional multiplayer, but the improved level editor does afford some light social gaming to fans of the series. With the addition of scripts, players can create their own fully realized puzzles to share with other Scribblenauting individuals via Nintendo DS WiFi.


Above: Not partial to a golden elephant? How about a gigantic orange one?

In a nutshell, Super Scribblenauts is a fantastic game. It approaches puzzle solving in a very open-ended manner that increases the game’s replay value dramatically and the overall novelty from the first title continues to entertain in this sequel with the new adjectives system. Add that Super Scribblenauts has no glaring flaws (i.e. Maxwell can finally be moved around with the freaking directional pad) and you’ve got a very solid game. If you own a Nintendo DS, you should own Super Scribblenauts.

Oct 12, 2010

More Info

Release date: Oct 12 2010 - DS (US)
Oct 29 2010 - DS (UK)
Available Platforms: DS
Genre: Puzzle
Published by: WB Interactive
Developed by: 5th Cell
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief
PEGI Rating:
12+

30 comments

  • veryweirdguy - October 12, 2010 1:18 p.m.

    I loved the original Scribblenauts, and it sounds like this has improved on it in every way. Can't wait to give it a shot!
  • JohnnyMaverik - October 12, 2010 1:19 p.m.

    Great, I picked up the first game and found it fairly underwhelming, and as you point out in your review, the movement was a big part of that. I'm glad to hear they really have fixed that problem and expanded upon their original concept. I'll certainly pick this up at some point... I mean really, after "We started a flu epidemic from a diseased rainbow unicorn." I was sold.
  • zer0_cool16 - October 12, 2010 1:21 p.m.

    The first one was really frustrating to control but I had fun before I realised I just couldn't put up with the control scheme!
  • Bomberman - October 12, 2010 1:26 p.m.

    I'll go return my copy of the first one right now!
  • OnyxOblivion - October 12, 2010 1:55 p.m.

    How many Ollars for this wonderful game, sir?
  • papergoon - October 12, 2010 1:58 p.m.

    i guess this was the one that was supposed to release last year. but even now, it's amazing
  • KnightDehumidifier - October 12, 2010 2:18 p.m.

    Can you make a gaming radar?
  • Robx - October 12, 2010 2:23 p.m.

    SO THIS IS BETTER THAN HALO REACH?!
  • Redeater - October 12, 2010 2:34 p.m.

    @Robx YES THIS IS BETTER THEN HALO REACH! This requires imagination and fun.....also not in the same genre. If the controls are better as everyone has indeed stated then this is going to be one of my favorite games this year. I played the hell out of the first one but it was tainted by bad controls.
  • sheepy94 - October 12, 2010 2:57 p.m.

    I think that this should've gotten the super review. A Super Scribblenauts Super Review would've been super.
  • Robx - October 12, 2010 3:11 p.m.

    @Redeater Hahaha I know bro, I just had to do it.
  • Amnesiac - October 12, 2010 3:13 p.m.

    I'd buy that for an Ollar!
  • 510BrotherPanda - October 12, 2010 3:19 p.m.

    I didn't play the first one, but I was curious about this. I've got this reserved, but this review sealed the deal. Thanks Jordan! I'll go pick it up today!
  • 510BrotherPanda - October 12, 2010 3:24 p.m.

    @Redeater & Robx I hope the Reach "meme" dies slowly... It's fun, but the problem with it is all games from this point on BETTER GET 9's and 10's, BECAUSE '8' IS THE NEW '7'...
  • awsomemaster - October 12, 2010 3:42 p.m.

    i told myself i wouldn't buy any games from e3 to the 3ds launch.... except for this :) recaptcha: duccion scandals- can't wait to try it in game
  • Crabhand - October 12, 2010 4:02 p.m.

    My friend and I had very high hopes for this game, and it's a relief to see it won't disappoint. I can't wait to pick it up.
  • Aletheon - October 12, 2010 4:38 p.m.

    So happy they fixed the broken controls of the first game. Will buy.
  • Crypto140 - October 12, 2010 7:38 p.m.

    Too bad I don't have an imagination anymore. Otherwise I would be making flu epidemics from a diseased rainbow unicorn. Damn you TV and video games!
  • batmanboy11 - October 12, 2010 9 p.m.

    I'm not a fan of the first one, but I'll give this a shot.
  • imtrappedinaninvisiblebox - October 12, 2010 9:58 p.m.

    That last minus sentence was pretty weak. Who doesn't love stars?

Showing 1-20 of 30 comments

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