REVIEW – Scribblenauts Unlimited
A review by Jeremy Hardin
Maxwell is back and bigger than ever! No, I mean it. For the first time ever, Scribblenauts has come to the big screen of your TV via the Wii U in the latest game Scribblenauts Unlimited!
So, for the uninitiated, such as me, you may be asking yourself – what is Scribblenauts Unlimited? I will attempt to answer that question with another question. What can you imagine? Yeah, I know – what kind of loaded question is that? Well, that question is the very essence of what Scribblenauts Unlimited is. Whatever you can imagine, will be. It’s an open world, puzzle game filled with zombie cowboys and cowgirls, flying teddy bears, sharks on wheels that shoot flowers, polka dotted dogs, giant robots and more! When you play Scribblenauts Unlimited on the Wii U, you’ll be playing with nearly limitless resources and rules and a whole lot of fun!
As I said, whatever you can imagine, will be.
The opening is an animated cut scene; narrated by Lily, one of Maxwell’s sisters. She describes how your mom and dad – the world’s greatest explorers/adventurers – met, fell in love and started a family with 42 children! Lily goes on to explain that your parents gave you each an amazing gift. Lily was given a magic globe that allows her to travel anywhere in the world and Maxwell was given an amazing magic notebook that brought to life any word that was written in it. Concerned that Maxwell and Lily might become ‘spoiled little brats’ with these new gifts, their parents send them out to explore the world. On the road to the city, Maxwell and Lily come across an old man asking for food. Maxwell uses his notebook to make an apple, but he played a trick on the old man. The apple he made was rotten. Angered by this trick, the old man places a curse on Lily and she begins to turn to stone. Luckily, their brother Edwin had a farm nearby so Maxwell takes Lily there. After the initial chastisement, Edwin explains about Starites, which is the physical representation of other people’s happiness and how they might be able to lift the curse. Maxwell, determined to save his sister, sets off with his magic notebook to make others happy. This is the end of your intro and the beginning of the game. Obviously you play as Maxwell. You start off in a tutorial level on Edwin’s farm and you are asked to create a few specific items and solve some simple puzzles. This sets the tone and pace for the rest of the game.
Gameplay and Controls
Once you leave Edwin’s farm, you will gain access to the world map which shows each area and all the many locations you will visit along the way. At first, you will be limited to the first area and only the first few locations. The more Starites you obtain, the more locations will unlock. So, that explains the layout and your ‘world map’, so now let’s talk about how you play this game!
Every level will have several different NPC’s roaming about, many of whom are in need of help. Your job is to use your magical notebook to help the people out and make them happy. Sounds easy right? Well, honestly it can be. Other than a handful of times, I never really had too much trouble completing puzzles. Some of you may find this as a deterrent, but I find that the ease in which you are able to complete puzzles lends itself to a very relaxing gaming session. There are a variety of puzzles to complete too. One puzzle will have you escaping a jail, another – defending a firehouse from a zombie invasion, or even helping two children defeat an old witch. Those are but a few of the many strange and oftentimes humorous puzzles you’ll find yourself engaged in.
If you recall, I mentioned at the beginning that Scribblenauts Unlimited is driven by your imagination. I mean, it truly is the force which lends itself to some interesting and engaging gameplay. So, the more you use your imagination, the more fun you will have.
There are two ways to collect Starites, either by completing smaller puzzles and earning shards – 10 of which make for a complete Starite. The other method is by taking on a larger puzzle which incorporates most of the level. You will have to complete several tasks, but once you do you will earn a full Starite.
Thanks to the hardware of the Wii U and the developers over at 5th cell, you are able to create and store over 900 custom objects. In addition, you have the Object Creator which allows you to “create your own original objects, assign unique properties, and share them with friends online – to be used in game or further modified as they like!” For ease of use, you can store created objects in your magic backpack. With a tap of the stylus you can open your backpack and drag and drop created items into the game world for Maxwell to interact with. You can even take an existing object, modify, and then save it as a new creation. Oh, but it doesn’t end there. Not only can you create new objects, you can modify their properties, such as their size, color and their behaviors.
Using the Gamepad to control Maxwell and type into the notebook is very easy and fun. Plus, the gamepad makes it seem as though you are really writing in the magic notebook. In order to interact with any NPC or object, simply tap the person/object of interest with your stylus to bring up the available options. You are able to add adjectives to anything, so you just might find yourself messing around a little longer than you expected to as you get used to your newfound freedom.
There is also the inclusion of Multiplayer, which allows for a second person to use a Wii remote to control any object in the game world. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to try this feature out. One last minor note of interest would be the avatar creator. As you play, you will unlock other costumes or avatars to play as. Additionally, you can create and customize your own character to play in game. This is certainly a welcome and interesting addition.
For all you Wii U owners, here is a bit of bonus content for you. We are able to create licensed Nintendo characters using the notebook. I’m talking about the likes of Link, Mario, Luigi, Bowser and more. There are just a few Nintendo characters to create, but even having the option is very nice indeed.
Visuals and Sound
Scribblenauts Unlimited boasts a very upbeat and catchy soundtrack, as well as some amazing looking graphics. All the objects are created using vector art, which means that no matter how large or small, they will retain their quality. The visuals are simple, cartoony and charming. Every level has a distinct theme which applies not only to the landscape and architecture of each level, but also the NPC’s and the puzzles. Oh and I can’t forget to mention this important piece of information. You can play the game entirely on the gamepad and it looks great at that!
Concluding Overall Impressions
I am impressed by the nearly limitless nature of Scribblenauts Unlimited, and I really enjoy the relaxing gameplay it has to offer. Plus, the object creator, online sharing, and the multiplayer options kept me going back over and over.
I have never played a Scribblenauts games before this and I can say without a doubt that this is an excellent, fun game and I’m definitely now a fan. If you liked the previous Scribblenauts games, I can only imagine Scribblenauts Unlimited will be a worthwhile purchase for you as well.
Remember, whatever you can imagine, will be.