Developer: 5th Cell
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: Wii U (reviewed), 3DS, PC
Modes: Singleplayer, 2-5 co-op (local)
I never thought I would ever play a game where I would feed a Cannibal a baby and get rewarded. Then I played Scribblenauts, a game that is only as messed up as your imagination. As a comic book artist and writer I have always been interested in the Scribblenauts series since its inception on the original DS in 2009, the whole “you can write whatever you think of” (except rude things) and it’ll appear was always appealing, but for one reason or another I never had the chance to play a Scribblenauts game. But getting my hands on Scribblenauts Unlimited, all I can do is sit here and think “man…. I have totally been missing out”.
Scribblenauts Unlimited is a puzzle game where you play as Maxwell or one of his many brothers, to collect Starites in order to save your sister Lily, who is slowly turning to stone. To collect these Starites you need to help people with their problems, which you do using your trusty magical notebook. The entirety of the gameplay revolves around the magical notebook, which when written in can conjure up nearly anything. This is where the bulk of the fun of Scribblenauts Unlimited comes from, the database 5th Cell must have built up for all the things you can create must be a mile long. It is extremely hard to find something that you can’t create in this game. But it doesn’t end at creating straight up objects, you can also add adjectives. Want to make a broken time machine? You can. What about a noisy pink ninja? Yep. How about a giant scared zombie clown? No problems. OK, but what about a zyzzyva? I have no idea what that is, but sure.
You control Scribblenauts Unlimited exclusively using the Gamepad, and there are multiple control methods for playing. You can use only touch controls, you can use the buttons on the Gamepad or if you like you can use a mix of both. All these control schemes are available to you at all times, which is a nice touch. You don’t to go through a bunch of menus to use it in any specific way. I really enjoyed using a mix of both controls. Typing using the Gamepad’s touch screen felt extremely natural, and is just another reason on top of many proving that Nintendo’s new controller is a game changer. There is local co-op for people who have extra Wiimotes but this functionality is extremely limited. Extra players can use the Wiimotes to select an item in which the main player has created and control it. There is not a whole lot you can do, but in some cases you can help the main player complete puzzles. It is also a nice distraction for the people who aren’t actually playing the game.
There is a lot to do in Scribblenauts Unlimited, and I mean a lot – there are over 100 Starites to collect but most of the puzzles will award you with a shard of a Starite and 10 of those will award you with a single complete Starite. Meaning there are literally hundreds of puzzles to complete. Most of these are extremely easy though, as you have nearly the whole English vocabulary at your disposal to help people out, and you won’t often find yourself stuck on any given puzzle. But when it comes to Scribblenauts Unlimited I honestly don’t find this detracts from the gaming experience, since you can tackle each puzzle in so many different ways, and most of the fun comes from trying to complete each task as creatively as possible.
The game also employs a 2D “open world”, this is usually where you will find people to help, but like many open world games you are free to cause havoc if you so choose. Summon a few dinosaurs, maybe some zombies and why not a superhero and see if he can take em all on? If that is not entertaining enough for you, you can actually create whatever object you like. With an extremely robust object editor you can make up whatever monstrosities you can think of. I made a Chinese dragon with SMGs for legs, a chainsaw for a tail and a bazooka coming out of its forehead… I call it the Omega Dragoon. When you create these things you are free to put them in an in-game shopping centre where they get posted online and other people can download your creation and use them in their own game.
Another nice addition for Nintendo fans are the fact that Mario and Zelda characters can also be summoned with your notebook. Although you can’t do a whole lot with them but it is just super cool to see these characters run around and do what they do in your little sandbox. And you can equip the Master Sword and Hylian Shield to yourself during the game. How rad is that?
Scribblenauts Unlimited might also just be the best game on Wii U to work in conjunction with Miiverse. Even though Miiverse is not built into Scribblenauts like New Super Mario Bros. U is, using the screenshot function of Miiverse and showing other people how you went about getting a Starite, or showing off what crazy object you have made using the object editor, or just want to show off the awesome showdown between a god and a t-rex, is just so much fun. It’s also great to hear back from other gamers and finding out how they went about solving the same puzzle you did, you will be so surprised how other people go about doing the exact same thing in so many different ways.
One of the things I was sceptical about when it came to this game is whether there was any point to playing it on the big screen. I always thought that this would be perfectly suited to a handheld, but when you see the world of Scribblenauts Unlimited comes to life on my HDTV my opinion completely changed. The art style 5th Cell has developed for this game was always super clean and cute, but the HDness of it all just fully realises what they were going for. It also helps that the game opens up with a gorgeous animation introducing you to the world. This is one pretty game.
Though in saying all that, I did find that most of the time I was looking at the Gamepad, as the whole game is controlled on it, there is no actual reason to even look up. Even if it is gorgeous. The TV shows a UI free version of what you are seeing on the gamepad, it offers no additional information, which is a shame. Though it is great for anybody who just wants to watch what you are doing. But another great thing about the whole game being controlled on the Gamepad is of course the fact the TV can be doing something else whilst you play Scribblenauts, and I found that with this game particular was one of the best games to play when mindless television was on.
If there is anything that’s really lacking in Scribblenauts Unlimited it’s in the sound department. It’s not that it’s terrible, it’s just extremely generic. The music and sounds in the game do what they need to do. It brings the cuteness levels up and isn’t annoying. In fact, most of the time I barely noticed that there was any music. But all in all it ties up the entire package well.
- The game is as crazy as your imagination
- Good use of gamepad
- Miiverse is perfect for this game
- Robust object editor
- Superslick visuals
- Tons of replayability
- Mario and Zelda Characters (Wii U only)
- Puzzles too easy
- Don’t look at the TV often
- Basic multiplayer
- Generic music
This is one of those games where you get out what you put in. If you go about completing the puzzles in the most basic way you might not enjoy this game entirely. But if you completely let your imagination go wild, I find it hard to believe that you ever get bored of this game. With the gamepad this game feels totally natural on Nintendo’s new home console. If you are a creative person and looking for a great experience on Wii U get Scribblenauts Unlimited. Like the title mentions there are literally unlimited amount of fun you can have with this game.
Written by Jin Chan Yum Wai