I desperately tried to like the original Scribblenauts when it was released on the DS towards the end of last year. To be able to conjure up any (well, almost any) word you could think of and have it appear in game to help solve puzzles sounded like absolute sorcery. Unfortunately the game was held back by a couple of key issues. The puzzles quickly descended into the banal, but they were wondrous in comparison to the control scheme. Everything was done via the touchscreen; movement, item selection, camera control; to say it was cluttered would be putting it politely.
So, up steps the sequel – Super Scribblenauts – and I’m pleased to say the frustrating control scheme has been dumped in favour of the option to control the game’s protagonist, Maxwell, with the DS’s d-pad. The transformation is remarkable, and tasks that would have previously required dexterity beyond the human species suddenly become a piece of cake.
The game is split into a number of constellations, with each one housing several levels. The object of each level is to fulfil a specific task to earn a ‘Starite’. It’s how you go about these tasks though that marks Super Scribblenauts out from the crowd. In the top right hand side of the bottom screen is a notepad icon. Tapping this opens up a keyboard where you can type in a word, which will then appear on screen. For example, one level tasks you with simply finding the Starite, which is hidden in one of several crates scattered about.
First up I decided to rid the level of enemies by summoning an ‘evil flying monkey’, and setting it on them. Unfortunately the little blighter then turned on me, so I summoned God to take care of him. To traverse my way around the level to find the Starite I decided to use a ‘flying bathtub’ and hover about until I found it. Job done. I usually find it a bit of a cliché when I hear the phrase ‘the only limit is your imagination’, but Super Scribblenauts comes closest to living up to that than any other game I’ve played. The level I described could have turned out so differently if I had wanted it too; perhaps I could have summoned a ‘death ray’ to shoot the enemies, and then equipped a pair of snazzy wings to fly around?
One of the big changes over the original Scribblenauts is the introduction of adjectives, allowing you to assign qualities to nouns. Is that bridge you’ve created too small to span that gap? Why not create a ‘large bridge’ then, or if you’re particularly sadistic, a ‘large flaming bridge’ which will burn Maxwell’s feet. What? Like you’ve not thought of that already!
All this adds up to puzzles that are so much more enjoyable than before. The variety on display is fantastic, and although some goals can only be achieved by writing certain things, that doesn’t stop you messing about until your heart’s content. Some of the most fun moments of the game have arisen purely from me being an idiot and seeing what happens when a ‘zombie axe’ fights an ‘angry hippo’, or when an ‘angry small devil’ fights a ‘large scared devil’.
There are a couple of downsides though. For all its freedom, sometimes the puzzles can require things that are perhaps a bit too obscure. There is a hint system, where you can purchase up to three hints per level, but I feel perhaps a bit more clarity would have served the game better. Either that or I’m being a dunce.
Following on from this is the fact the game can sometimes be a bit picky as to what it classes as an acceptable object. For example one of the puzzles stated that the women on screen wanted her hair dyed blonde, so naturally I typed in ‘blonde dye’, but it wouldn’t except that as it wanted ‘hair dye’.
- Much improved control scheme
- Huge dictionary of words
- 120 mainly excellent puzzles to complete
- Good hint system
- Quite obscure sometimes
- Some puzzles require too much trial and error
Overall there is a lot of fun to be had with Super Scribblenauts. The amount of information crammed into that little DS cart boggles the mind, and I wonder what 5th Cell could achieve with a piece of kit such as the PS3 to hand. Those who played the original game and got bored, or simply found the control scheme too much of an issue, should definitely pick this game up. It’s a blast.