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Super Scribblenauts Review

By Neilie Johnson, 10/27/2010

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Back in 2009, 5th Cell, the makers of Scribblenauts, put forth a very ambitious concept: a game that allowed people to enter any word they could think of, and conjure up that word's corresponding object. The idea was met with considerable skepticism but amazingly, it worked. Well, sort of. The game's frustrating touch screen controls nearly sunk the whole thing. Fortunately though, 5th Cell took their idea back to the drawing board, ironed out those pesky control issues and in the just-released sequel, Super Scribblenauts, the playful little puzzler finally reaches its full potential.

Like its predecessor, Super Scribblenauts is a simple sequence of unrelated scenarios starring a square-headed character named Maxwell who runs around solving puzzles in a red cow-udderish hat. There's no story or continuity to speak of; each level is a world unto itself wherein you perform magic acts, provide specific objects for people, navigate your way through obstacles or impress a collection of judges (for instance, a king, a butler, a leprechaun and a jaguar) by throwing on a kooky combination of things (Maxwell looks mighty fly in a royal crown, serving tray, green slacks and fur coat). Whatever you're doing, it's much easier than it was in the the first game due to the smart addition of some much-needed D-pad/button controls. Maxwell is infinitely easier to control this way, although the touchscreen controls are still available if you feel an inexplicable need to send your blood pressure up a few points.

While the control scheme change is without doubt the most important, the other meaningful change to the game is the addition of adjectives. Now you can use descriptive modifiers when creating objects so when you're decorating a horror movie set you don't just make a monster—you make a big, green, robotic monster. This seemingly small change adds a lot of possibilities to the larger game and is actually mandatory for completing the special Adjective Levels. It's crazy fun seeing what kinds of absurd combinations the game actually supports (and it's a surprising lot of them). Otherwise, the gameplay, with its alternation among various types of situational, logic and action puzzles is very familiar but that's not a bad thing. The game offers something like 120 fun little scenarios, all of which are great tests of your vocabulary. If there's one downside, it's that the game as a whole is a bit on the easy side, barring a handful of obscure puzzles with some surprisingly over-specific solutions that even the three hint system couldn't save. Still, you can challenge yourself more and extend gameplay several hours by replaying levels both to earn gold crown ratings and to see how many alternate solutions you can find.

Of course, one of the most fun and tempting things about a game said to contain “everything” is to test it. Super Scribblenauts remains true to its original family-friendly form by preventing you from using proper names, obscenities or anything that could be construed as vulgar or violent. Not that I'm suggesting any of you would try entering any of those inappropriate terms, oh no. But as a critic, it's my job to thoroughly test the limits of the game, right? RIGHT? Well I found for instance, that Super Scribblenauts won't let you create a “bloody axe” and if you try to punch in the word “sex”, it'll suggest “seax”, which in case you didn't know, (I certainly didn't) is a large medieval knife. My ahem...research also revealed that the words “dick”, “ass”, “boobies” and “cock” do get through the filter, but don't get too excited – the first word conjures up a Sherlock Holmes style detective and the rest call up animals. There, don't you feel better now that I've tried all the naughty, 6th grade words and you don't have to?

Anyway, once you've exhausted your entire list of obscenities and you're done with the single player game you can check out the merits you've earned (awards granted for clearing levels and for being creative both with object creation and usage) or mess around with the level editor. The editor lets you create your very own Super Scribblenauts scenarios, allowing you to select the background, objective, terrain, objects, characters and even allows you to create hints. And once you're done you can share your creations online or locally.

It's good to see a developer listen and respond to community feedback and with Super Scribblenauts, 5th Cell demonstrates that it did just that. The game's simple control scheme fix eliminates the frustration, fulfilling the promise of the first title and makingSuper Scribblenauts one of the most fun, addictive DS games available for both the 10+ crowd and beyond.

Overall: 9 out of 10



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