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Review: Scribblenauts UnlimitedScribblenauts Scribblenauts Unlimited Steam PC 3DS Wii U 5TH Cell Warner Bros. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Review
Developer: 5TH Cell
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform: 3DS, PC, Wii U
Release Date: Out Now
ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older
This review is based on the PC version of the game
I remember back when the original Scribblenauts was coming out. The buzz surrounding the game was insurmountable, with people hyped out of their minds to create whatever they could imagine. When the game came out, many felt it didn’t meet their expectations, despite how ambitious it was. Still, the franchise chugged on, popping out another handheld title, Super Scribblenauts, which was met with much the same reaction. Now the series looks to sink its teeth into more platforms with Scribblenauts Unlimited. It’s still not the “game of the forever” that people thought the original would be, but Unlimited is a lot of fun for those ready to flex their lexicon.
Entrusted with a notebook that can make materialize anything written in it and a magic globe that lets you travel anywhere, Maxwell and his sister Lily head out to the city at the behest of their parents. As you can imagine, giving such powerful items to children doesn’t work out for the best. Maxwell plays a prank on an old man who casts a curse on Lily to turn her to stone. To cure her, Maxwell must collect Starites, items that are created by doing good deeds for other. Armed with his notebook, Maxwell heads to the city and beyond to cure his sister.
At its heart, Scribblenauts Unlimited is a puzzle game. You help random people around the map for Starite shards and play scenarios for full Starites, with each scenario consisting of a few puzzles. You’re given a situation, like a school boy wanting to eat something to make him grow up strong, and it’s your job to open Maxwell’s notebook and make a solution out of adjectives and nouns or to modify an existing item that fits the instructions. There are also item Starite shards that are awarded to you for making and interacting with certain items. For instance, those who want to induce paradoxes by strapping a piece of buttered toast to a cat and seeing just how it lands will be rewarded for their curiosity. As you collect Starites, you unlock more areas with different themes and puzzles. Much like other games that use this system, you can beat the game without getting every Starite, so you don’t have to feel too pressured if you’re absolutely stumped on a puzzle.
While the concept and mechanics behind it are fun, your enjoyment of the game is going to largely depend on how you solve the puzzles. That’s not to say that those with a small vocabulary won’t get much mileage out of the game. It’s more of an issue of flexibility. You could amass a backpack of favorite items that will serve you throughout the game, but to me, the fun comes from challenging the system and trying to think of the most outlandish solutions possible. That said, you’re going to run into some words that aren’t in the game or just don’t work like you’d want them to. Luckily, Unlimited has an item creator that allows you to make any nouns you want. You can also edit your avatar in the same way, should Maxwell not suit you. The creators are surprisingly detailed and is easily something you could spend hours on.
As I played Unlimted on PC, I can’t fully comment on the differences in the 3DS and Wii U versions, though I do know that they contain some Nintendo characters and items that aren’t in the PC version. Still, the PC version is not without its advantages. I’m not a fan of typing on a resistive touch screen, so being able to type on a physical keyboard is a huge plus to me. While the Nintendo versions may have some more words to work with, the PC version makes up for this with Steam Workshop support. Not only can you make your own nouns, you can browse user-created content as well, assuming you don’t mind sifting through some less than inspired creations and dozens of Slender Mans and Creepers. It also makes the item creation more fulfilling, as you can share your work for others to enjoy.
Scribblenauts Unlimited has a great concept behind it, but it seems like the series will always be hit-or-miss depending on how creative you want to get with your solutions. If you’re just looking for a quick completion, Unlimited won’t offer much for you, despite the refinements that have been made to the concept and the depth of the item creator. If you go into the game wanting to have fun with it, though, you won’t be disappointed.
+ Charming story and aesthetic
+ Large dictionary of words
+ User-created content
- As deep as you make it
- Not enough Starite scenarios
- Some words don’t work as you would expect
Overall Score: 8 (out of 10)
Long story short, Scribblenauts Unlimited is the best entry in the series and so long as you’re looking to be creative and have fun, you will.
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