In a move that will surprise no one, Scribblenauts is coming to the Nintendo Wii U, and so far the game looks fantastic. The creation of developer 5th Cell, Scribblenauts Unlimited was on display at E3 2012 while the iOS update for Scribblenauts expanded the universe of Maxwell’s imagination for thousands.
The Wii U’s touchscreen seems tailor-made for the type of gameplay that gamers reacted so positively to with Super Scribblenauts on the Nintendo DS, and the developers claim that as soon as word of the Wii U got out, they knew that their title and the hardware was a perfect fit.
The gameplay is still the same as previous versions: Maxwell goes on a quest of good deeds to earn valuable Starite to rescue his sister who has been turned into stone. Fairy tale motifs abound in the game’s story, pairing all too nicely with the powers of Maxwell’s magical notebook.
In perhaps some of the most interesting gameplay witnessed with the Wii U titles present, a majority of the action actually takes place on the touchscreen controller. If one was merely judging the game at first glance, it would be safe to assume that it was the size and clarity of the Wii U’s controller-based touchscreen that the developers had in mind, not a full console experience.
The Wii U feeds the same view to both the TV and controller, giving players two versions of the same beautifully vivid, hand-illustrated worlds that Maxwell travels through. More than half a dozen unique unlockable areas on the game’s map were visible, and while not all were accessible in the demo, the developers promise that the player can walk from one side of the world all the way around without any loading screens.
Fast travel nodes are present for those who prefer not to take the scenic route, but a slide of the finger across the touchscreen grants a scrolling view of varying art styles that are more than enough to showcase just how strongly the screen’s fidelity will start to sway skeptics when the Wii U hits stores. When the scenic tour is complete, the touch of a finger centers the game back on Maxwell so he can get back to Starite-searching.
The heart of Unlimited‘s gameplay is, of course, spelling out objects that will solve a world full of colorful characters’ problems. a keyboard on the touchscreen acts as the input device, with more than enough sensitivity to negate the need of a stylus. Whether the player chooses to solve problems in a straightforward fashion or add some personality is up to them, but 5th Cell promises they have upped their game.
The number of nouns and adjectives that can be spelled out is larger than it has ever been, and even the most extensive testing on the show floor failed to turn up a missing object or qualifier. In the name of speed, certain objects that the player finds consistently of use can now be accessed quickly, simply by placing the object into Maxwell’s equally magic backpack.
One new feature that Unlimited will be introducing is a new form of multiplayer interaction, noted in the game’s announcement trailer. The game now allows unique creatures and objects to be constructed out of any assets included in the game, then uploaded to friends’ systems for them to use in their own adventure. The mode may not be quite as deep or involved as online multiplayer fans have been hoping for, but it is quite the boon for the gigantic green electric kitten fans.
Scribblenauts has long since ceased trying to convince the world that their gameplay and concepts are as refreshing and inventive as they are addicting, so anyone familiar with the series and considering buying a Wii U would be wise to mark Unlimited as a must-buy. For those skeptical of motion controls or the controller in general, it should be noted that a majority of the time spent during the demo – and likely also if purchased – was spent completely engrossed in the touchscreen contoller, making the Wii U’s ability to hand the TV over to another person actually seem incredibly practical, and opens the door for surprising development over the coming months.
Scribblenauts Unlimited is expected to release as a Wii U launch title come Holiday 2012.
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Keep up to date with all the Wii U demos and more with our coverage of E3 2012.