If you have ever found yourself thinking, Wow…I wish I had a flying golden vampiric angry walrus to play with right now, then you should know that your time has come. In fact, with Super Scribblenauts not only can you create this monstrosity, but you can pit it against a ninja shark that would do you harm. This game, which is a sequel to the 2009 sleeper hit Scribblenauts from 5th Cell and Warner Bros. Games, once again asks players to guide the protagonist Maxwell through a multitude of levels, solving each situation by summoning any item in the game’s database. This newest entry in the series takes what was great about last year’s Scribblenauts game, and for the most part, improves upon it. However it is clear that not all is perfect in the land that scribbles wrought.
The core gameplay mechanics remain unchanged in Super Scribblenauts, though an enhancement to the game’s dictionary has added a whole new dimension to this handheld puzzler. You can control Maxwell via the touch screen like in the first game, or you can utilize the D-Pad, which is a new and incredibly less frustrating control scheme. For most of the game Maxwell will be in a situation that requires him to conjure up a correct object or combination of objects in order to find the Starite, which is just a five-pointed star that really seems to serve no purpose other than allowing you to complete a level. For example, you can create a shovel to dig a hole in soft ground, or a rain cloud to extinguish a fire that stands between you and your objective. Players create these items by spelling out words on an on-screen keyboard on the DS’s touch screen or via handwriting recognition (which doesn’t work very well). In the first Scribblenauts game, you were limited to just non-proper or non-trademarked nouns, but in Super Scribblenauts, you now have the option to use adjectives to modify your creations with the characteristics of these adjectives. For example, if you need to fly in a level you can stick the word “flying” in front of almost any clothing item, equip it, and you’ll be airborne. A flying tiara (personal favorite), tutu, tuxedo, combat boots, bow tie, and suspenders are all possibilities. For those feeling more mundane, the staples of wings or a jet pack are still available. Granting players the use of adjectives was a great idea and can lead so some very hilarious items being made, but the usefulness of the adjectives leaves the feeling that there is a lot of untapped potential in this feature. A large amount of fun can be hand simply seeing what sort of insane conglomerates you can create on the game’s “playground” feature, which serves as the title screen. The only downfall with this feature is that the playgrounds never seemed large enough to fully explore just how vast the game’s dictionary is.
There are two main types of levels in Super Scribblenauts, just as there was in the first game. There are the puzzle levels, which will require Maxwell to use his item creation abilities to meet certain objectives that will make the Starite appear. Some of the puzzle levels are also marked as “Adjective Levels”, which means they will require the use of modifying words. These felt like the most polished and challenging levels in the game and they were the hardest to cheat at due to the fact that they usually required very specific adjectives to make the Starite appear. The action/platforming levels make a return in this sequel, though they are not nearly as abundant as they were in the first title. These levels will allow you to see where the Starite is resting, and you must navigate your way to it before Maxwell or the Starite is harmed beyond repair.
The difficultly level in this game is really limited to two things: the depth of your vocabulary and the expansiveness of your imagination. There are times when the amount of options you have to complete the task at hand actually make the game seem too easy. For example, one level puts you in an area where the Starite is surrounded by barrels of gasoline. Bombs are falling out of a tube in the sky, and the only thing preventing them from igniting the gasoline and destroying the Starite is the trapdoor that is also blocking your path to the goal. The new in-game hint system advises you to move the barrels out of the way before you open the trap door, so this is obviously the preferred solution. After attempting several unsuccessful combinations of balloons, fans, and air vents to get the gas barrels out of the way, I settled on simply placing an “immovable invincible plank” underneath the bomb tube. I then opened the trap door leading to the Starite and grabbed it. After I discovered the usefulness of items that are both “immovable” and “invincible” I began to use them a little too often, to the extent where I almost felt like I was cheating. As a general rule, though, the use of adjectives isn’t necessary for most of the levels in this game.
The presentation in Super Scribblenauts is handled well. The graphics have a hand-drawn look to them, and character models have a unique style of movement, which is very reminiscent of a marionette or a paper doll with jointed limbs. Some of the game’s visual elements seem to have absolutely no context though, such as clouds and rainbows being suspended from cables in the sky. The music is very basic and ambient, but the sound effects are great. Even the aforementioned flying golden vampiric angry walrus will express itself via vocalizations as Maxwell tries to avoid getting his blood sucked.
A game about the ability to summon anything you want may seem a bit gimmicky, but as long as you don’t abuse certain adjectives you will still find that Super Scribblenauts presents a unique challenge, despite the age of the player. The addition of adjectives to Maxwell’s repertoire of words has added an interesting and fun facet of gameplay, but it also feels like there is more begging to be done grammatically in a future entry in this series. The amount of fun and level of difficulty you will experience when playing Super Scribblenauts is totally up to you. If you can think outside the box and have an impressive stash of words at your disposal (or at least a good dictionary and thesaurus handy) then this is a game that you’ll keep coming back to again and again.
|Use of adjectives opens up some interesting gameplay changes, control scheme is much improved by implementation of the D-Pad, may challenge younger players to enhance their vocabulary||It doesn't take much effort once you figure out how to use some powerful adjectives, shortage of platforming levels may leave some buyers feel like they were sold short|
|Verdict||If you enjoyed the first Scribblenauts, this will give you more of the same stuff you liked but with some added frills. Super Scribblenauts would also be a fine entry point into this type of game for people looking to bypass the flaws of the first one|