Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Scribblenauts Unlimited (Wii U, 3DS, PC) Review

We're halfway through this review-filled week. For the third review we have Scribblenauts Unlimited. The copy I reviewed was the Wii U version.

To Play or Naut to Play


The Scribblenauts series debuted on the Nintendo DS and brought with it highly innovative emergent gameplay and a lot of promise. While the original Scribblenauts did not live up to its potential, its sequel Super Scribblenauts made everyone remember why they were hyped for its predecessor in the first place. Now it is the launch of the Wii U and with it comes the first home console version of the Scribblenauts series, Scribblenauts Unlimited, also on Nintendo 3DS and PC. Does the game offer unlimited potential or limited enjoyment?

This edition of Scribblenauts tells the tale of how Maxwell got his magical notebook and became the helpful hero fans know him as. This is how Scribblenauts Unlimited's story goes: Maxwell acquires the notebook and pulls a mean trick on an old man. Turns out the man is a magician who casts a spell that slowly turns Maxwell's sister to stone. It is up to Maxwell to gather special trinkets called Starites to nullify the effects of the old man's spell. The plot is just a means to an end to give an excuse for players to unleash their creativity on the various missions, but it is a nice and simple one nonetheless. Scribblenauts's home console debut has still-frame cutscenes that bookend the game, narrated by Maxwell's sister.

The humble farm where our adventure begins...
So Maxwell has his mission, but how does he collect Starites? Well, there are a multitude of levels to enter, each with their own set of characters, objects, and whatnot that need the type of help that only Maxwell and his magic notebook can provide.

The notebook is the most important piece to Scribblenauts Unlimited. You can input a noun and it will mystically pop up in the game world. There are limits to what you can place, but for the most part, there is a wide range of words that the game recognizes. In addition to nouns, you can add adjectives to objects and characters to make them even more unique. For example, you can write "giant" and a huge male character will be summoned. Then you can add a "green" adjective to him and he will change color.

If things get too hot, why not write in some rain?
What does this have to do with the actual people needing help? By summoning the right object or using the right adjective, you assist the various cries for help and are awarded Starite shards. Such an instance could be a zombie who is hungry. Type in "brain" and you will satisfy the zombie's hunger and be awarded with a shard.

Wizards of Scribblenauts Place
The fun of Scribblenauts Unlimited is knowing that you can complete missions in a vast array of ways. There is no "one" solution in most cases. If you have gorilla sitting on top of a building with the clue of "King me", you can opt to give the gorilla a crown for the simplest solution, or you can opt to input "chessboard" and voila, the gorilla is satisfied that way as well! It is absolutely fun to concoct different solutions each time you play. Though, occasionally something that you would think would work doesn't, and that just creates a little frustration.

Even a crew of vikings needs a little bit of "me time."
Nonetheless, even if you mess up entirely and somehow kill an important character you can always reset a given level. The Starites and Starite shards you earned will stay collected, but everyone and everything in the level will return to how it was originally when Maxwell first stepped into it.

In addition to the individual characters and objects needing help, there are special missions.. These require multiple steps to solve them, but the reward is much greater, a full Starite. Such examples include helping a boy scout earn his badges, breaking out of a booby trap-filled prison, or assisting a chef in cooking something fabulous. As you gain more complete Starites, the areas of the world map that you can explore increases, but Maxwell's sister becomes more petrified in the process.

Riding a raptor? Why the heck not?
Something not in the Nintendo 3DS version of Scribblenauts Unlimited is the object editor. Here you can tinker with preexisting objects or build your own. These objects can be shared with other users online via a marketplace-like setting. Already there are brilliant designs manufactured, a lot of them video game-related objects such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Metroid's Samus Aran, for instance. And don't worry about not having enough space as you can hold upwards of 500 saved objects.

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
and the deer and the c-antelope play.
Scribblenauts Unlimited looks fantastic on the Wii U. The higher definition than what was possible on the Nintendo DS offers crisper and cleaner characters and absolutely vivid levels. Since the game is on more powerful hardware, the limit of how many objects you can create on screen at the same time has greatly been improved. Obviously this isn't the case with the Nintendo 3DS version, which can easily be considered the weakest of the three (Wii U, 3DS, and PC). The ability to play Scribblenauts Unlimited on the Wii U GamePad exclusively is also a wonderful feature of that version. Meanwhile, the music is quite catchy and even got me bopping my head while I was playing. Overall, Scribblenauts Unlimited is a success when it concerns presentation.

The home console debut of Scribblenauts is very much a noteworthy one. While there are the occasional glitches like failing a mission because Maxwell died mysteriously or objects falling through the ground, the good far outweighs the bad in Scribblenauts Unlimited. The possibilities for solving puzzles and helping people are very high. The only limitation is your imagination... and the game sometimes not being as open-minded with solutions as it is advertised as.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

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