After enjoying its heyday over half a decade ago, Scribblenauts Showdown is a shot at giving the series a new lease of life through multiplayer silliness. It still features Scribblenauts’ unique dictionary of items, letting you summon almost anything you can come up with into the game, but now mixes this with a bevy of mini-games that wouldn’t be too out of place in a WarioWare game.
The first thing players will notice when playing Scribblenauts Showdown is how easy and fun it is to create a character. The character creation tool offers up plenty of options for their player, some of which then go to add to the silliness of the game’s multiple game types and modes.
That’s just a stepping stone to the main game, with the varied game modes and types where Scribblenauts Showdown really shines. I genuinely enjoyed playing the various mini-games within the game’s standard Versus Mode, despite some mini-game controls being a bit fidgety. Before each game, each player has to come up with an item to a randomised theme, which will then feature in the game that follows.
There’s plenty of playfulness in the mini-games, such as getting you to inflate balloons using motion controls – this only works on PS4 and Switch, of course – and eat things using triggers and analogue sticks but the motion controls only work only on the PS4 and Switch versions, but is worth praising. However you can also see some of the inspirations for other games, such as when both players are flinging objects to try and knock each other’s towers over in order to retrieve and item that you first had to spell out, and there was the Flappy Bird-inspired level where both players had to carry their item to the end of the level without losing their lives.
Showdown mode then takes this variety of mini-games from Verses and drops it into a board game setting, letting up to four players where you progress steps based on your performance in the mini games. Each player will draw cards and pick one, the card picked will have a level and a steps counter allowing the player to move forward or backwards by 1 – 4 places depending on the card. It’s not particularly complicated, but it’s quite fun to play in a small bursts and is a good way of experiencing all the good mini-games in a short burst.
Strangely, Scribblenauts isn’t all that strict in enforcing its own rules. When tasked with picking a word, you can literally pick anything and the game will let you interact with it. I’ve found myself eating inedible objects when told to pick a food, for example. That said, by not following the rules too rigidly, it allows players more freedom to have some nonsensical fun.
Despite being billed as a party game, Showdown also features a rather unexpected Sandbox mode, where players are able to complete objectives and missions by interacting with other NPCs and objects and modifying their own Scribblenauts character, which in turn allows players to navigate this space and familiarise themselves with Scribblenauts’ mechanics a little better.
Having played the game on both PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, it’s not surprising given the game’s 2D art style, but the game is identical on both platforms and performs exactly the same way.
Scribblenauts Showdown is a fun game you can pick and and play at any time, but you may feel the novelty wear off without friends to play with. Despite this, Scribblenauts Showdown offers some great mini-games and game modes. It feels different to party games we’ve seen in recent times, but it’s also pleasantly familiar.
Version tested: PlayStation 4