Review: Scribblenauts Unlimited (3DS)

Maxwell is back (albeit belatedly), but is this his best outing yet?

By Dustin Grissom. Posted 03/22/2013 10:00 1 Comment     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Main game play element still excites; the music is phenomenal; new level setup is a step forward; the graphics look great; the addition of a narrative; great use of StreetPass
Poison Mushroom for...
The game gets tedious quick; doesn't make you think outside of the box most of the time; not enough variety; no item creation mode

When Scribblenauts was first shown to the gaming world, it definitely caught everyone’s attention. You could write down anything you wanted, and (if it’s not a proper noun or trademarked!) it will show up on your screen instantly. The idea was great, but admittedly the original Scribblenauts lacked a little depth. Super Scribblenauts, on the other hand, hosted the great new ability to add adjectives to your objects and creatures, but still lacked an engaging foundation to entrance gamers for hours on end. Is Scribblenauts Unlimited the game to finally get past what has been the Achilles’ heel for an otherwise great franchise? In some regards, it most definitely has, but not entirely.

In Scribblenauts Unlimited, Maxwell finally gets the backstory and narrative he deserves. The story certainly doesn’t break new ground, but it does provide a quirky, innocent styled story that you would expect, and want, from the series. The game has Maxwell, as well as his abundance of brothers and sisters, on a quest to receive starites to stop his sister from turning to stone.

The new focus on story is also found in the gameplay itself, as the player is no longer restricted to scrolling through level lists to go to their next challenge. Instead, the game has a more open world feel to it. The game’s globe map is chock full of different areas to explore, and each area has numerous puzzles to solve and people to help. Most of the time, you’ll be walking up and down the areas looking for people that offer starite challenges. They’ll typically provide you with an easy task, such as “My dog is hungry!”, and you’ll promptly type in whatever you think a dog eats.


However, the amount of fun you have typically relies on how creative you are willing to be. I had multiple occasions where I made myself laugh out loud because of some of the farfetched things I typed in that had actually worked. Sadly, the fact that the difficulty level is basically set by how creative you’re willing to be became a problem further down the road. After going from area to area, the game becomes tedious, and the easy difficulty begins to take away from some of the fun. Sure, there were times where I actually had to think about a specific prompt, but those occasions were too few and far between. Had the game provided some more unusual, more difficult challenges, such as some of the ones presented in previous Scribblenauts titles, the game would have been more of an enjoyable experience.

The presentation of the game is a major improvement over the previous portable Scribblenauts titles. For one, the graphics, though simple, look great on the 3DS’ more powerful hardware. Sadly, the 3D screen is not utilized for any gameplay, or at all for that matter, but it is understandable considering the heavy emphasis on the touch screen. What really stood out to me, however, was the beautiful music. The uplifting, catchy beats of the soundtrack will be stuck in your head for days. In fact, I listen to this beauty all on its own through my phone:

Sadly, the 3DS version of this game lacks both the object creation tool and the inclusion of Nintendo characters that are present in the Wii U version, making the game’s console counterpart the true “unlimited” version of the game. On the other hand, the 3DS version itself does support some great exclusive features in the form of StreetPass. It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had with StreetPass thus far on my 3DS, as it lets you see how others have solved puzzles in their own unique way throughout the game. It really is amazing seeing others’ thought processes and creativity!

Overall, Scribblenauts Unlimited improves upon its predecessors in many ways, yet it still lacks what it takes to make a truly great game out of its awesome idea. Writing whatever you want and seeing it come to life, without offering a creative challenge, eventually becomes, believe it or not, repetitive. However, what’s here is an extremely well-made game that boasts an incredible presentation, graphics and sound, and a game mechanic you just have to experience for yourself.

One Response to “Review: Scribblenauts Unlimited (3DS)”

  • 33 points
    mailorderninja says...

    It’s a shame that it’s missing features from the Wii U version. I haven’t purchased a Wii U, but would have liked to play with the creation tools and the Nintendo characters.

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