------------REVIEW BY ULTIMATE NINTENDO MAGAZINE------------
Toay we watched in utter awe as Maxwell the Scribblenaut fought an epic, three-way battle against a zombie (on a skateboard, with a tuba), and a ninja (riding a penny-farthing, with a bullwhip).
Despite his martial training, the ninja was bitten and we were then facing a zombie, and a 'ninja zombie'. Panicking, we decided to beat a tactical retreat. "Try typing in 'teleporter'" suggested Amy. One appeared. Jumping inside, we were taken to another planet where we were able to steal a spaceship off some aliens, which we then rode back through the teleporter and used in an air-strike against the zombies. True story.
Welcome to the magical world of Scribblenauts. Of all the countless games we've ever played, there has only been a handful that can capture the attention of any person and have them experience an instant sense of delight. Super Mario Bros -- sure, maybe it did back in 1985. Tetris -- applying the term 'delight' is going overboard, 'rapid, all-consuming addiction' is a better term for it. Zelda : Ocarina of Time -- Nah, not really. It was more of a slow burn of awesome that culminated in a toe-curling climax of digital satisfaction...
Try typing "nuke". It solves evey problem. Honest.
Scibblenauts is something else. It has the uncanny, almost cosmic ability to immediately hook and delight all those who come to contact with it. It is, for lack of a better term, a 'human super-magnet' for your DS. This is mainly because the game is easy to control and employs a very addictive concept: Maxwell's magical writing pad can create any 'thing' you can think of, and then you use said 'thing' to either beat the objective, or to traverse the environment. In a nutshell; you learn everything there is to know about Scribblenauts in two minutes, and then -- provided you have a bit more of an imagination than a dead ant -- it'll hold your attention for a very, very long time.
Understandably, there are some rules and regulations that come with Scribblenauts. The thing you type in has to be a real-life, physical object, and can't be copyrighted material. Also, there is no vulgarity, alcohol, drugs, and racism. Oh, and there's no nudity either (the first thing we checked... for jurnalistic purposes). You also can't endlessly spam objects, as there is a limit.
Now who thinks to type in "giant crab"?
Other than all those limitations, the world is now your oyster. Your drug and alcohol free, fully clothed oyster. Scribblenauts recognises a rediculously vast amout of words, including, but certainly not limited to: scramasax, griffin, toilet, dandruff, potoroo, glucose monitor, doppleganger, zebu, sensei, doorjam, ghost ship, hash brown, clinical neurophycologist, ukulele, behemoth, discombobulator, jerk, invisibility cloak, giant crab and tryoglodyte. We had a great time going through the dictionary, picking out random nouns. It is so fantastic that 5th Cell have drawn and created a dictionary's worth of stuff, but things get bit-your-own-ear insane when you realise that they have cut very, very few corners when creating objects of a similar nature. For example, if you type baboon, orangutang, chimpanzee, monkey, lemur, and gorilla, the game will yeild very different looking simians.
If you think that isn't crazy enough, you can type "glue" to stick a (fricken') laser cannon onto a shark's head, you can deploy a grappling hook to reach far obstacles, you can bounce on a trampoline, you can even use a time machine to go back to the age of the dinosaurs and ride an ankylosaurus back to the present time period (!!). Also, you'll soon notice that all living objects have their own AI and personal agendas.
Axes are so out. Helicopters are the way of the future!
But enough of the crazy shenanigans, is ther an actual game to play here? You bet your sweet ankylosaurus there is. Scribblenauts is broken up into ten themed worlds with each world having roughly ten or eleven puzzle maps, and eleven action maps. The puzzle map works as follows: You're plonked into a random scenario and you're given a one-sentence hint as to what your objective is. Once you figure out what needs to be done, go crazy! Interestingly, you have the opportunity to reattemt the same challenge two more times, but without using the same objects. Do that, and you'll earn yourself a gold award for that level.
The action levels, on the other hand, work slightly differently. When you start, you'll notice that the satire is happening already, and you have to find a way to get over to it.
How would you get the star? Jetpack? Chainsaw? Trampolines?
Both level types may sound easy in theory, but it can become pretty taxing in the later levels. Also, while there's no time limit on these things, you'll still get rewarded depending on how elegantly you completed the level, how long it took you, and how many objects you used. Make no mistake, Scribblenauts may start out easy, but it can quickly become Brain Training for your imagination.
Scribblenauts is no-doubt an amazing game, but it isn't without its problems. The game is purly stylus-based, and is quite approchable for most people, but it can be a little fiddly when you want to arrange objects in a small space. However, this minor setback is bypassed once you remember to give yourself some room. While we're on the subject of 'space', you might like to know that the object budget may set you back on whatever great schemes you have on completing the level.
Beyond these minor peccadilloes, Scribblenauts is an innovative powerhouse of a game that transends age, transends gamer experience, and even transends platform bias -- for the record: of the non-Ultimate Nintendo writers in the office who is (militantly) anti-Nintendo has now bought a DS, purely to play this game. It seems that every person who plays Scribblenauts ends up walking awaywith a crazy story to tell. Usually, it'll be about an obscure word that the game understood, or some crazy AI action that would never be expected in a video game.
Scribblenauts is unique, it's fun, it's charming, it's creative, and it's obvious that 5th Cell has put a heck of a lot of effort into its creation. It's full of replayability too -- We lost four hours on just the practice-mode start screen. Basically, if you buy this game and cannot get some pure enjoyment out of it, there is something medically wrong with your brain.
10 out of 10.
------------REVIEW BY ULTIMATE NINTENDO MAGAZINE------------