HomeBlogScribblenauts Game Review for Nintendo DS

Scribblenauts Review for NDS, Gameplay Video and Walkthrough

Published September 24, 2009

Scribblenauts Artwork for Nintendo DS

Scribblenauts is a puzzle solving video game for the Nintendo DS made by 5th Cell. The goal of the game is to help the protagonist, “Maxwell” complete puzzles to fetch and earn “starites”, which are big glowing stars. Sounds pretty standard, right? Well, in order to solve these puzzles you need to summon items by writing their names. But you aren’t limited to just specialized in-game items, you can write just about anything and it will magically appear on the screen.

The game begins by running you through a quick tutorial. The game is fairly easy to jump right into. Dragging the styles around the screen will make Maxwell walk around. Tapping the notepad icon bring up the keyboard to summon new items. A gauge appears on the top screen which shows you how many items you have summoned; you can only have so many on the screen at once. (I found this limit to be quite liberal.) You also learn about “ropes” and “glue” that you can summon to attach items together. As well as “baskets” and “buckets” that can hold other items. You also learn the limitations of the items you can summon. You are limited to “real-life, physical objects. Additionally, it cannot be: a place, proper name, suggestive material, shape, latin or greek root word, alcohol, race or culture, vulgarity or copyrighted.”

After the quick tutorial, you’re thrown right into some easy puzzles. You gain extra points called “ollars” by coming up with solutions to the puzzle that either don’t use many items or are particularly creative, which I will discuss a little later.

One of the easier puzzles found early in the game shows a tree and a lumberjack. A hint pops up that says “Help him do his job.” Then you’re left to your own devices. Typing “axe” spawns an axe which when dragged to the lumberjack equips him with it and he chops down the tree. But that’s boring! Typing “beaver” spawns a beaver who runs over to the tree and chops it down. Typing in “pegasus” and “chain” spawns both, which allows you to attach the tree to the flying horse and fly away, tearing the tree from the earth. All of these solve the puzzle and earn you the starite.

Here is an example of some gameplay recorded by me. (Ignore the mouse cursor, this game is NOT for PC, it is for Nintendo DS only)

The creativity and thought put into the engine is simply incredible. For example, there’s an early stage with a police officer, a fireman, a doctor and a chef. The hint is “Give each what they want.” Of course, a co-worker here at the office started fooling around, spawning a skunk… which made every character run away screaming. He then deleted the skunk and spawned “stethoscope” which the doctor accepted as an item! Then he spawned “criminal” which the police officer immediately began to chase.

Part of the fun comes with just creating fun, interesting scenes without solving puzzles. For this, the title screen acts as a blank canvas with no puzzles to solve. Here I was able to just make whatever I wanted. For example, I spawned a “large hadron collider” and a “skyscraper”. I then spawned “rope” and attached myself to the skyscraper. I then spawned “pirate” and “ninja” and sure enough and they immediately started fighting. I then turned on the LHC and it created a black hole which sucked up the pirate and ninja.

The game isn't perfect though and there's a lot of things I'd change. For example, the controls can be very difficult. You have to click on the screen to move. This is no problem in the earlier levels, but in the larger levels this becomes very difficult because you also click the screen to select an item. So, if you misclick and click somewhere that's not an item, Maxwell attempts to run to that spot, causing his demise much of the time. It would be much easier to just have the directional pad control the character. Also, I found little balance between the levels. The easy ones were way too easy and the harder levels were just frustrating.

All in all though, the game is fun. Overall, it’s a great game that really deserves a look. Any chance of releasing it for iPhone??

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Alex worked on several successful e-commerce websites before joining the RB team. He graduated from SUNY Purchase with a Bachelor's in Math & Computer Science.

This article is under Geek Factor, Creative

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