Publisher: Warner Bros
Developer: 5th Cell
by: Jason 'OrigamiPanther' Love
Imagine that you are committing a bank heist to steal a floating star and you can use almost anything in the English vocabulary to help you get it. There’s just one catch: two cops stand between you and the star, and you can’t kill them to get it. So what do you do?
Scribblenauts, the latest DS title from 5th Cell, presents you with scenarios like this and countless others over the course of its hundred plus levels, and provides you with a vocabulary of tens of thousands of words to help you solve them. For example, enter “Pegasus” and the winged horse of myth will appear to fly you around. The possibilities for things to do and create are only limited by what you can think up; but even if you’re a walking Webster of words, not everything in the game reacts like you might think.
The hero of Scribblenauts, Maxwell, is controlled by tapping the screen to indicate where to go or with what object, animal, or person to interact. While this generally works, when things get a bit busy or crowded it would be nice to be able to pause the action and clean up the clutter. The items you create can also be a source of frustration. In the example above, you might want to put the cop in a cage. However, you cannot move the cop as you would the items you generate, and coaxing an irate cop into a steely prison isn’t as easy as putting a doughnut inside.
Even though the controls and item execution can be a bit off at times, Scribblenauts truly is a delightful and innovative game. No other game I’ve played is as open-ended, or embraces the idea of a “sandbox,” as much this title, and being able to equip a knight with an uzi never ceases to be fun. There are few enough games out there that allow players to create and shape their own kind of story. Being able to share that story with others, as Nick pointed out, makes for an uncommon co-operative experience.