Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Super Scribblenauts (2010)

Genre: Puzzle  | Players: 1 | Developer: 5th Cell

You’ll have to walk your brain outside the box if you’re to enjoy Super Scribblenauts. It’s described as an ‘emergent action puzzle game’. What that means in practical terms is a licence to do magic with the stylus; i.e. conjure things in real time simply by spelling them. Use the stylus to input words and watch as the game creates the object(s) on-screen: Ninjas. Velociraptors. Trout. Almost any non-trademarked object you can imagine can be rendered. Almost… it’s kid friendly, so no shark-toothed vaginas or armour-clad knobs.

You can even attribute adjectives to your creations. The majority of the time the creature/object will behave according to it’s nature. Things may get out of hand if you create opposites, or carnivores and tasty humans in the same play park.

Leaving that aside, the gameplay revolves around Maxwell. You move him either with the D-pad or the stylus. The stylus is used for moving your creations around on-screen, so it’s simpler to control Maxwell via the D-pad.

Maxwell collects starite, one of which is awarded for each of the 120 levels completed successfully. You’ll need to analyse a situation, then create an object that will solve a dilemma or enable Maxwell to get from point A to point B safely. Once the starite is won you move onto the next puzzle. It’s structured as a set of tutorials that'll help you gradually understand the mechanics of the game.

There's almost always more than one way to proceed, but admittedly some of the solutions are tenuously related to the problem. Sometimes the obvious, most rational solution will fail to solve the equation with no explanation why. It can get frustrating. When that happened I drifted off into toy box mode again, and fun was had with a jetpack and a flamethrower. Pyromaniacs will get their jollies.

As a game, it’s too short and too arbitrary to give full marks to. As a toybox/sandbox simulator it has almost endless possibilities provided you have a sufficiently fertile imagination to tap into. The middle ground between the two aspects is an amazingly simple idea married to a densely packed creation tool.

Buyer's Guide:
Available on Nintendo DS only.

3½ homicidal scribbles out of 5

3 comments:

Borderline said...

I love being able to create Cthulhu Mythos creatures in the game.

Dr Faustus said...

I had Cthulhu V the Giant Sand worm. It was so awesome.
The creation aspect gets a 5 out of 5. I had to factor in gameplay though, and that part of it is much less successful.

Marceline said...

Glad you had a pretty good time with this. I agree with your criticisms. It's a good game, but it's the sort of game where you have to make your own fun. Coming up with the most ridiculous solutions possible is more fun than solving the puzzles themselves. But you know, flying pink dinosaurs. It's all good.