Scribblenauts Review
Scribblenauts box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: 5th Cell 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Warner Bros. Ent. 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sep. 15, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Turning your Gears
by Maria Montoro

Video games and creativity really go well together these days. The more technology evolves, the more interactive games become, and the more appreciated they are. This is a great thing for us gamers, as it not only helps to develop our imagination, but it also helps to make the concept of video games more widely accepted by the masses. Most likely, a few years from now people won't think of video games as evil brainwashing tools, but rather as another form of entertainment, which is what they are anyways.

Scribblenauts screenshot

Scribblenauts is here to prove that you can have lots of fun by using your very own reasoning and tapping into the often unappreciated imagination. In the game, you're Maxwell, a little kid with a funky red helmet tasked with solving diverse puzzles within ten different worlds. In puzzle mode, the goal is to provide other characters with what they need or to put things together in a certain way; once achieved, you need to reach the starite to finish the level. You can also play these levels in action mode, which changes the goal completely, as your mission is simply to reach the starite, which is strategically placed and protected by obstacles galore.

The first few levels are quite easy, and they serve as an example of what can be done later on. However, things get trickier as you advance, and the solution may require the summoning of several objects rather than just one or two. The less objects you use the better, as the goal is to do it on par or below. The best thing about it all is there are multiple ways to reach an objective. Depending on how you employ the items you call upon, the outcome will be different, but as long as you get the starite without cheating, you'll be good to go.

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Oftentimes you'll surprise yourself seeing how something worked out when the method seemed so out of the blue. Example: The girl wants her favorite chocolate bar, but there's a bully ready to fight who won't let you access the vending machines. My solution? I handcuffed the guy to one of the vending machines and somehow I managed to put him inside of it. Done. Everyone's safe, and the girl gets her chocolate bar. Weird! My first idea was to dig a hole in order to reach the water, throw a piranha in it, and let the bully fight the hungry fish; unfortunately, he died, and therefore, I failed. This tells you that fighting is not always the answer. The game lets you use weapons, but you'll get a lot more credit with an ingenious solution.

Scribblenauts screenshot

At the end of each level, you'll earn a certain amount of "ollars" depending on the means you used to get the starite - the more original you are, the better. Also, you'll obtain special medals (merits) that acknowledge your efforts; there are several dozen merits you can receive, but the most common ones include "new object," "no weapons," and "savior." I found myself using the same items a little too often. Once you realize the jackhammer does the trick when it comes to perforating the floor or that the wings let you fly around, it'll be tough to come up with new ideas. However, that's where one has to struggle, and if you find new and interesting solutions, the game will be that much more rewarding. Think of something… sounds crazy? Try it out!

On the menu screen, you can access the "Ollar Store" and spend your hard-earned "ollars." You'll be able to buy skins (or avatars) for your character, so you don't always have to be Maxwell; instead, you can be a zombie, a ninja, or whatever you pick. This can be easily changed from the options menu, where you can also select from multiple music tracks you've purchased from the "Ollar Store." These little perks aren't incredibly exciting, but they help to customize the game and keep your interest alive. The tunes are simple but cheery and refreshing, and best of all, there are lots of them. Other than that, more and better sound effects would have taken the game's quality to the next level.

Scribblenauts screenshot

Also, there's a level editor that lets you create and customize puzzles based on existing ones. Basically, you pick a scenario, place objects and people in the scene, and then tweak their behaviors so they use a tool, ask for a certain kind of food, or fight whoever gets in their way. You can establish relationships between characters and objects in order to set your goal. This editor is easy enough to use, though it does require a lot of imagination to create your own levels. Nevertheless, it's fun to challenge your friends with a brand new puzzle, and the game even lets you share it via local connection or Nintendo Wi-Fi (using friend codes).

Screenshots / Images
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