When the original Scribblenauts came out, it was a revolution. People couldn’t believe that anything they type could appear on screen. At the time, it didn’t matter that a puzzle consisted of having to rescue a cat from a tree, because writing the word “ladder” and seeing it appear was thrill enough. A few years later, Super Scribblenauts was released. In that game, adjectives were introduced. This added a whole new dimension to puzzles. If a puzzle required a player to combine wings and a pickle, a simple “pickled wing” could be created. Adjectives also created a sort of sandbox. I would make a “fertile death” and then place it next to a man. Death would kill the man, and then proceed to have a baby. I would spend hours creating different scenarios in the environment, hoping for different outcomes.
Now, I’ve played Scribblenauts Unlimited. What was revolutionary in 2009 is no longer revolutionary at the end of 2012. Scribblenauts Unlimited has made no big strides, but rather, a few steps forward, as well as a few steps back. This lands the new game right where it started in terms of quality.
There are two main new features in the game, as well as a few smaller added Wii U exclusive bonuses. First off, there is now an open-world in the game. I use that term in the loosest way possible. The only thing that qualifies the game as open-world is the fact that levels are all interconnected. For example: When in Capitol City, a player can enter a building to start the Firehouse level. For those too lazy to travel in the actual world, there is a world map available which allows players to quick-travel from one level to another. This essentially defeats the purpose of an open-world game. Therefore, one of the main new features in the game becomes obsolete.
The second new feature is the object editor. Players can grab an object and edit the object to their heart’s content. Then, players can share their works of art online for others to see and download. Unfortunately, there are a few flaws with this system. First of all, the object editor is incredibly complicated for a newbie. There is really no guidance as to how to use the feature, and players are forced to waste time trying to figure what each button does. The second gripe I have with the object editor is that no puzzles require it. I first touched the editor after I got 100 percent completion in the game. This means that the editor is completely useless for the main game. I think it would have been cool if the developers made some puzzles designed for the object editor to be used. Due to the fact that the object editor isn’t really used in the actual main game, or explained that well, the second main feature is also pretty much worthless, unless the player is incredibly artistic and has the time to figure out how the object editor works.
In addition to these two main features which every version has, the Wii U version of the game has some bonus content as well. In my opinion, this extra content is rather useless, and is not worth the premium price of the Wii U version. First of all, players can make Nintendo trademarked items in the game. Yes, you can make Mario and Princess Peach. Unfortunately, making these characters does virtually nothing. It seems like Nintendo wants to keep their properties as they are. Due to this, players can not alter Nintendo items in the item editor, nor can they add adjectives to these items. So, if you were looking for a “female Mario”, you should probably look elsewhere. In the end, the Nintendo items don’t solve puzzles, interact with the environment, or entertain you at all. They’re only eye candy.
Another exclusive feature is multiplayer. A second player can take control of an item that the first player makes. So, if the first player makes a “knife”, then the second player can take control of the knife, shanking others. This mode has a downside as well. Playing as the second player is simply boring, especially when the first player has the fun job of actually using his imagination and can solve puzzles.
For those that do decide to pick the game up, there are a few other things to keep in mind, other than the familiar gameplay. The music sounds nice at first, as many of the new songs on the soundtrack are new to the franchise, but after playing for long enough the songs can get quite boring. Furthermore, unlike in previous games, there’s no incentive for replaying puzzles. After the first run through of the game, the game will be over. There’s no reward for replaying a level using different words. Due to this, there is pretty much a total of no replay value. After the first 10-12 hours, the game will be 100 percent complete. So, when paying for the full price game, keep in mind how much content you’re actually getting for the money.
I’d also like to point out that having a TV around while playing is practically useless. Players will be constantly looking on their gamepads because in order to spell words, they must type the words on the gamepad. Since the gamepad shows the same thing as the TV does, often times I simply noticed myself playing on the gamepad, not the TV. This is unfortunate, considering that Scribblenauts Unlimited actually looks pretty. All the work that went into the game looking good went to waste, because I was practically looking at the gamepad the whole time.
Overall, Scribblenauts Unlimited is more of the same, which is a real shame. The game didn’t take the same strides forward as the other games in the franchise did, and in the end suffers because that decision. I don’t really recommend the Wii U version of this game, unless you’re a diehard fan of the franchise. This doesn’t mean that the game is bad, but that it isn’t worth 50 dollars. Fortunately, both the 3DS and PC versions of the game are about half of the price of the Wii U version. So, for all those that want to play another Scribblenauts game, or for those that have never played a Scribblenauts game before, I’d look into either the PC or 3DS version. For everyone else, I’d recommend to steer clear from the game.