Scribblenauts Unlimited Review
The Scribblenauts series has been a huge hit on the DS, and is finally making its debut on consoles. Thanks to the Wii U’s second screen, it’s a fairly seamless transition and the increased in-game vocabulary results in the best entry in the series yet. The Unlimited moniker comes shockingly close to describing just how much variety you have to solve the game’s many brain-teasing puzzles. With his sister encased in stone, Maxwell needs to solve dozens of puzzles throughout the world to free her.
If you’re new to the series, it revolves around being given a series of tasks and then having to enter a word to conjure up something to solve the problem. If there’s a cat stuck in the tree, you can craft a ladder and try to climb up to save it, or you can get a saw to cut the tree down and have the cat fall safely to the ground. Should an art gallery’s guest need some tailor-made creations, you’ll need to figure out what makes them happy. The burning man is unsurprisingly pleased by fire, while a cavewoman will appreciate something like a club, and nothing would make Mrs. Claus happier than to see her hubby enshrined in a frame.
Little puzzles like this are the crux of the entire adventure, and a mix of thinking logically and thinking completely outside the box is what it will take to conquer the game. Sometimes, thinking logically can work, but isn’t nearly as much fun as conjuring up a missile-launching mech held together by glue to take out a horde of zombies. The puzzles are a lot of fun and easier than past games – so if those were too tough for you, this is the best version yet to buy. You’re able to enter in pretty much anything that isn’t vulgar or copyrighted, although as a nice bonus for the Wii U version, you are able to bring some Nintendo characters into the world. Sadly, unlike the other in-game things, nothing can be changed on them.
However, with everything else, you can change whatever you want and even make your own in-game shop so online users can use your custom-made items. It’s interesting to go around the shops and see what kind of crazy things have been made. If you’ve ever wanted a tiger-print bazooka, you can either make one or get one from someone online. Conversely, if you’d like to have the Scooby-Doo gang go through the ghost house area, you may not be able to get them on a player’s storefront, but could make them yourself if you so desire. It’s fun to bring Mario into the fray for that area though. Just seems kinda right, and you can hum the Ghost House stage music while playing.
Scribblenauts Unlimited controls really well with the Gamepad and being able to move Maxwell around using the analog stick is handy for when you want to get him from A to B but need to move him to tap a certain object to get a mission rolling. The large display size for letters on the Gamepad really helps players ensure they’re typing in exactly what they want – although if a mistake is made, there is a suggestion feature that will bring up the proper spelling and a slew of other words you can use. The in-game dictionary seems to have hundreds of thousands of choices in it, so if you’ve got a robust vocabulary, it shouldn’t be too hard to think of something that will help you in a given situation. It’s amazing to think of just how much time it took for the developers to craft some of the wackier options for words, but odds are, if you enter a combination of words, you’ll at least get some kind of representation of it no matter how abstract it may be.
Visually, Scribblenauts Unlimited looks stunning. The 2D animated art style worked well on the DS because its sharp outlines looked good on the somewhat limited hardware. You could tell that there were a lot of details the developers wanted to show off and couldn’t, and now they can. Everything has a ton of detail and the subtle shading on everything really pops on an HDTV. However, since most of your time will be spent looking at the Gamepad, it has to look sharp there too. While it’s a bit less jaw-dropping on the Gamepad, the crisp display does an excellent job showcasing Maxwell’s colorful world and still shows just how much more detailed everything is compared to the DS incarnations.
The graphics are impressive, but the audio unfortunately isn’t. The music is very cheery, happy, and very forgettable. Plenty of games have had happy music and have been memorable, like the Super Mario and Sonic series. Scribblenauts Unlimited doesn’t get to join their ranks, sadly. It’s really the only part of the game that isn’t good, and it’s not something I minded since it’s easier to think of stuff with the music turned off anyway.
Scribblenauts Unlimited is the best looking and playing entry in the series to date. It’s also the easiest, so if you didn’t like the first two due to their difficulty, at least give this a rental. I think it’s the perfect starting point given its easy learning curve and it makes perfect use of the Gamepad. I’m not sure just how many DS-to-Wii U upgrades can be done without watering things down, but the setup winds up fitting this series very well. $60 may be a bit too high a price for the Wii U version given that the PC version is half that. However, if you really enjoyed past games, I can see it being worth that price for die-hards. Anyone on the fence will want to rent it first though
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
This review is based on a copy of Scribblenauts Unlimited for the Wii U provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.