It has been a little over a year since Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and 5th Cell released the original Scribblenauts. Given the game’s promise of creating practically anything, it was highly anticipated as an innovative original title. Gamers everywhere began dreaming up outlandish objects with which they could solve the game’s puzzles.
However, once they got their hands on a copy, many players were disappointed. The controls were imprecise and the word dictionary just wasn’t quite what people expected. A lot of the objects shared art assets and it seemed like players sometimes struggled to create items without adjectives. Thankfully, with Super Scribblenauts, 5th Cell took these complaints into consideration and fixed — or at least improved on — the issues of the original.
The first thing players should know about Super Scribblenauts is that this game is not really a sequel. The graphics, sound, music, animations, and character models all appear to be exactly the same as the original Scribblenauts. This game is called Super Scribblenauts instead of Scribblenauts 2 for a reason: it is basically a re-thinking of the original concept instead of true sequel.
Probably the biggest complaint about the first game was its control. This time around, Maxwell (the main character) can be controlled with the D-Pad. It is a major improvement over the stylus-only control found in the previous game, though it still feels a bit sluggish compared to other 2D games on the system. Strangely, despite this being a major point of improvement made to the game, most stages require no character movement until the end when Maxwell collects his Starite. A lot of stages keep Maxwell trapped in a box and only require players to place objects around the environment to complete the level. While the new control scheme gets the job done, it is just surprising the developers did not design more levels to take advantage of it.
The other much needed improvement made to Super Scribblenauts is that players can now use adjectives to create objects. The new and improved word dictionary allows for some very entertaining creations and really opens up the solutions to the puzzles. If the thought of creating an “Enormous Metal Robotic Turtle” or a “Flaming Poisonous Holy Sword” sounds entertaining, you will probably find some enjoyment in the game. Each of Super Scribblenauts’ ten worlds have a few adjective stages sprinkled in. These stages usually have several objects displayed and require players to create something with characteristics that match the items. One stage displayed claws, fangs, scales, and a beak. I solved it by creating a “Vampiric Scaled Eagle.”
While there are a lot of puzzles available in Super Scribblenauts, there are two primary types of levels that players will see over and over again. The most common is the “give people an item they want” puzzle. One example is a humorous level early in the game that asks players to clear out a line of people waiting at the midnight launch of a video game. Give the soldier a gun, the artist a brush, the delivery man a package, etc. to make them leave the line, thus ensuring that Maxwell gets a copy of the game.
The other type of level that pops up frequently is the “fill the building with objects” puzzle. For example, the game will ask players to populate a school. Add desks, books, students, teachers, and other school related items until the necessary number is reached and the level is complete. Despite the frequency with which these types of puzzles occur, they can still be entertaining depending on how creatively players solve them. Most of the puzzles have a pretty obvious solution the first time through, but each stage can be replayed after completion to earn more Starites. Going back to a previously beaten level requires players to complete its puzzle three times in a row without repeating any items. Sometimes this can be easy and other times players will run out of ideas on the second try. The game forces players to really scratch their brains and come up with some off the wall items to work as solutions.
The game also offers some interesting stages that pay tribute to other video games and movies. One stage is setup like the first area in Super Mario Bros, complete with castle and flag pole, and has players jumping into question mark blocks to find the one that contains the Starite. Another has players assuming the role of the Wizard of Oz, who must create objects to give to Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion. These are just a few examples of Super Scribblenauts’ more creative levels, and are probably among the most fun parts of the game. Hopefully, if the series has any future installments, they will feature more of these themed levels.
Overall, Super Scribblenauts is basically the same game as the original — just with better controls and object creation. It still has some issues with objects not performing exactly how players want them to, and sometimes the game will not accept solutions even when a player’s creation appears to meet all the game’s requirements. Although it still feels like 5th Cell has not quite perfected the formula, this game is a good step forward for the series. As long as players can put up with the game’s annoyances, the creativity and freedom allowed by Super Scribblenauts just can’t be beat.
Super Scribblenauts is available now on the Nintendo DS.