Saturday, October 30, 2010

Super Scribblenauts Review

Super Scribblenauts Review
This may be my most timely review yet.  Now, as you probably recall, last year the highly anticipated Scribblenauts was released for the Nintendo DS and boasted an incredibly ambitious method of gameplay, stated very simply and effectively in the game's tagline:  "Write Anything, Solve Everything".  For those who may have somehow missed it, the game worked on the mechanic that you could write anything you wanted to appear and then use it to progress through levels.  Ultimately, people seemed to love the game but it still garnered the occasional criticism and while the idea was incredibly charming and still great to mess around with, there were flaws in the game's functionality.
A few weeks ago the sequel, titled Super Scribblenauts, was released.  First off, 5th Cell did address the complaints about the wonky controls, now adding an option to control Maxwell with the D-Pad or buttons, giving you comfortable controls regardless of whether you're a lefty or righty.  More prominently is the thorough rebooting the concept of being able to create anything by adding adjectives to the game's library.
It's now almost possible to truly create anything you can really fathom.  Not only can you add adjectives to the items and creatures you create, but you can stack several adjectives onto each individual entry.  'Giant Metal Zombie Flaming Polka-Dotted Dragon' is a valid entry, for example, and it will produce exactly that.  It's a very impressive execution of the idea, and well reflected in the slightly altered tagline 'Create Anything, Solve Everything'.
One downfall I have come across is that, while the game has an unbelievable library of many words I've never even heard of, I've actually stumbled across some rather obvious adjectives that it has missed.  For example, Super Scribblenauts does not recognize the word 'sturdy'.  But thanks to the myriad of synonyms in the English language, you'll never come across something that you can't get to work, even if you have to stress your creative muscles just a little more.
The 'Action Levels' concept from the first Scribblenauts has been all but dropped in the new title.  The worlds are now represented by constellations and each of the main constellations contains only puzzle-oriented levels.  However, there are two special constellations which contain levels in the style of the original game's Action Levels.
The main levels themselves prove to be great fun, very inventive on the developers' side and produce a difficulty curve that is more or less perfect from beginning to end.  The game opens with a simple tutorial on how to play, which you have the option of skipping, and then moves into simplistic puzzles; as you progress, you will eventually find yourself in situations that can really tax your a good way.
The 'challenge mode' in which you can redo an already completed level 3 times without reusing words makes a comeback and proves to be an even greater joy this time around as the adjectives become a huge help.  The final level in the game is also a neat little surprise and quite literally rewarding.
My only real complaint about the game (well, aside from the lack of the word 'sturdy') is that it on a few occasions has frozen on me.  Whether this occurs for all players I can't say as it's entirely possible that I have a defective game card; much like I did with Zelda Spirit Tracks.  I don't know anyone else who owns the game so I can't be certain for the time being.
In the end, if you liked the original game, you'll love this one.  If you didn't like the original game because of the wonky controls, you'll also love this one.  If you haven't played the original game, I can guarantee you'll love this one anyway.  The only unfortunate bit to this situation is that if you never bought the first game, Super Scribblenauts outdoes it in so many ways (every way, honestly) that there's simply no point to owning both.
If you've read my tweets, you know that I called Super Scribblenauts 'the best game for sandbox play I have ever experienced' and this still holds true.  It's even caused masses of people to form around me in a group effort to create the weirdest stuff we can think of.
If you have a DS, this is one of a good handful of must-haves for the system, and I can't recommend it enough.

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