Warner Bros. Interactive and 5th Cell have finally released the first ever console iteration of the beloved Scribblenauts series. Now that the Wii U offers fans a new way to play with Maxwell and friends on the big (and little) screen, there’s no doubt that fans are anxious to see how well the portable experience has transferred over to Scribblenauts Unlimited.
Fortunately, this latest installment proves to be the best entry yet. That’s not to say that it’s without its problems, but everyone who picks up a Wii U will definitely want to (at the very least) check this title out.
Scribblenauts is one of the most creative puzzle games currently on the marketplace, allowing players to create almost any item their heart desires in order to solve problems and aid those in need. As an example, a restaurant is required to eliminate insects within their establishment in order to pass a health inspection. At that moment a number of possibilities were at my disposal; I could have conjured up some bug spray, summoned a bird to eat the bugs, or finished them off with a pistol. Anything from a zombie tyrannosaurus to a fireproof ice cream cone can be summoned via Maxwell’s notebook, and gamers can create basically whatever they want — provided they aren’t copyrighted or overly inappropriate.
Completing tasks will net users Starites, and these will unlock new areas to explore and even more missions that need completing. It’s a rewarding cycle that keeps players on their toes, and the number of unique problems encountered throughout the entire world will force users to push the boundaries of their creativity. The biggest issue that some will face with this concept, however, is the grind that is required to move on to new levels. Gamers have to look at the bigger picture though, because the appeal of Scribblenauts Unlimited isn’t about completing tasks — it’s about generating whimsical desires on an interactive 2D canvas.
Several of the missions are also plagued by poor task descriptions, and this can put a dent in the actual flow of gameplay. One mission requested help for a jet packing-wearing penguin who aims to steal back a diamond that was on display in a museum, and in order to do so it was suggested that someone distract the guard and deactivate the security camera. After frying the camera with some rain, it should have been easy work from there. It was not.
After putting the guard to sleep, freezing her, and creating bandits for her to chase off-screen, there was still no way to accomplish the mission. Eventually I just made the penguin invisible, promptly ending the mission, but the misleading text that lead to so many failures was incredibly frustrating. There a few other instances of this, but for the most part players can progress through the title smoothly.
Aside from those hiccups, Scribblenauts Unlimited takes what made previous versions so much fun and refines the experience to offer gamers a much larger sandbox-esque experience that allows their imagination to run wild on a grander scale. The missions no longer take place within their own levels, and instead can be found scattered through much larger worlds. Multiple missions can be found within one area, and the locale traditionally dictates the theme of the tasks. Maxwell’s world has never been as vibrant as it is in Unlimited, and the enormous maps and higher-end visuals make for a significantly more engaging game.
The addition of the ‘Object Editor’ has also done wonders for the number of creative options at the player’s disposal. This new feature is exclusive to the Wii U and PC versions of the game (sorry 3DS owners) and its integration into the world of Scribblenauts is almost seamless. The Object Editor’s role is pretty self explanatory, but it allows players to completely customize the items/creatures they can summon. Replacing the limbs of a polar bear with peg legs, or even customizing an in-game avatar is possible for the first time thanks to this new mechanic. There is an initial learning curve when it comes to using the feature, but after a few attempts, players will be creating all kinds of things with relative ease.
These creations can then be shared with thousands of others online by visiting a location called ‘Punctuation Plaza’. This area generates faux shops that others players have set up in order to distribute their creations, but for the most part it’s just wonderfully recreated characters from other well-known properties. Popular user-created shops will hang around the plaza for a while, but players are more than welcome to save a shop so that they can frequently visit it as it receives new items. There’s never been this level of interaction, albeit modest, in a Scribblenauts game before, and the ability to share your creations ensures that a never-ending stream of new words and objects will continue to arrive for countless months to come.
Overall, Scribblenauts Unlimited is without a doubt the best installment in the series to date. With the ability to completely customize almost everything, there’s almost no limit to what gamers will be able to create. A few of the missions can cause some frustration and bombing through the tasks will border on monotony, but these things are easily overlooked in the grand scale of things. Longtime fans and newcomers alike will instantly fall in love with the next level creativity available at their disposal, and the sandbox environments make the title’s replay-ability seemingly unlimited. It’s hard to even imagine where 5th Cell may take the franchise next, but the latest Scribblenauts has set Maxwell’s bar quite high for any successors that will undoubtedly follow.
Scribblenauts Unlimited is available now for the Wii U, 3DS, and PC. Game Rant was given the Wii U version for review.
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