Ingenious concept; improved controls; addition of adjectives; restructured campaign; and overall fun factor.
Wow factor missing from original and complicated level editor.
I created more than 950 objects in Super Scribblenauts, as well as thought of more than 400 adjectives.
Notice I wrote created — not killed, destroyed, obliterated, or knocked out. Developer 5th Cell’s Super Scribblenauts revolves around the concept of imagination and inventiveness, not quick trigger fingers and explosions. The player writes a word down, and boom, the object appears in the game to be utilized by the happy-go-lucky protagonist Maxwell. This simple concept wowed gamers last year in the original Scribblenauts, but, unfortunately, the first game contained control issues and felt a bit bloated in regard to the structure of the single-player campaign. Super Scribblenauts fixes these issues, as well as adds the ability to use adjectives, in an ingenious and addictive DS package.
From the start, players will be happy to see the inclusion of a D-pad control option. No longer will you have to tap where Maxwell will hopefully go. Super Scribblenauts allows for directional input, which fixes all control issues from the first game. Thus, Maxwell no longer feels like trying to control a unicycle on top of a skateboard (though that’s possible in the game).
Along with the controls, the amount of action levels has been scaled back drastically. In fact, the single-player campaign is no longer broken up into two distinct categories: action and puzzle. Instead, 5th Cell scaled back the solo affair intelligently, focusing more on the puzzle and wordplay aspects of the title. As such, creativity comes to the forefront of the design, which should be the case in a game where you make up objects. Maxwell will not be trying to dodge enemies; he will be cleverly mixing adjectives and nouns to solve some fun brainteasers. For example, one of the best new level types has the young hero dressing up in a fashion show to please four types of people, such as a cowboy, gymnast, leopard and ghost. The way players must manipulate adjectives to produce leopard-print chaps and the like is brilliant.
So, yes, adjectives are a welcome inclusion to the Scribblenauts franchise. If you want to make awesome, fast, flying, purple, dangerous, deadly sweatpants and slap those babies onto Maxwell, you can. He will then dart across the screen, though an unhappy face will appear from time-to-time to demonstrate the deadliness of the comfortable pants. This ability to layer adjectives on top of one another is wonderful and adds depth and more options in puzzle solutions.
Another pleasant addition to the game revolves around hints for puzzles in the campaign (very similar to the Professor Layton franchise). Players can either continue pounding away at a solution with an eventual time limit being reached and hint unlocked, or users may buy two extra clues with the in-game currency, Ollars. The inclusion of these tips provides much-needed assistance and especially helps on obtuse solution descriptions — another complaint of the first title. The hints are on top of a restructured HUD that points outs a player’s progress in an easy-to-understand fashion. While these two features may sound insignificant, that could not be further from the case. The additions definitely add to the accessibility, polish and overall fun of the game.
Yet Super Scribblenauts lacks the wow factor of its predecessor. The smile and a-ha moments you experienced when first booting up Scribblenauts never happen. Part of the blame rests with the novelty of the experience wearing off. But another part may be the similarities in visuals and music. For instance, it would be tough to differentiate the two games by just looking. Once again, Super Scribblenauts utilizes a simplistic, yet pleasant, cutout style of visuals that allows for thousands of items to be generated. The layers of depth are appealing and special mention must be noted to the improved physics system the objects utilize. At the same time, a more noticeable boost in the graphics may have made the game feel a bit fresher. The same can be said about the musical score. The whimsical soundtrack returns from the first game, but does not contain enough tracks that really break the original’s mold. I still nodded my head back and forth with the happy beats, but more new tracks that spiced things up a bit would have been much appreciated.
There is also a level editor in Super Scribblenauts, but the feature feels more like an afterthought. The entry fare for the mode is quite high and seems a bit too complicated for the franchise. This is definitely an area of the series that needs to be streamlined more. The inclusion of a level editor is nice for the very few who tackle its nuisances, but many will be left dumbfounded more than anything.
As a whole, though, Super Scribblenauts shines with polish, cleverness and ingenuity. The addition of D-pad controls and adjectives really spiffs up the series, and the restructured single-player campaign makes for a much more enjoyable experience. 5th Cell definitely nails the concept and execution this time, and players reap the benefits of the developer’s work. The wow factor may be missing from the original, but that hardly detracts from an otherwise outstanding game.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.