Game On!: Scribblenauts

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Imagine a video game where you can interact with just about any object you can think of - and all it requires is spelling the item's name.

That's the draw of Scribblenauts, which challenges players to solve side-scrolling puzzles using said objects - as few of them as possible.

The game's 220 puzzle levels are broken into 10 thematic worlds. Players will encounter a number of challenges, many of which can be solved with the judicious use of creative thinking.

Scribblenauts rewards creative thinking, as well as players who use the environment economically to resolve the problem before them. Along with the basic puzzle levels, it has a fun little sandbox where players can experiment.

The game's built-in dictionary has more than 20,000 words that can be conjured up simply by putting your pen to the touch pad. Aside from certain less-than-savory terms, it's pretty amazing in its ability to interpret the English language and provide an appropriate object using homonyms.

Trademarked terms and profanity are excluded from the game's lexicon, so those looking to play "dirty Mad Libs" need not apply - this is a family title, after all.

The only real drawback is the game's confounding use of physics. Many conjured objects do not act as they would in real life.

One frustrating example is an early level where the player must collect three flowers and put them in a basket to satisfy the level's inhabitant. It's simple enough to pick up the flowers, but once they're placed in the basket the game keeps ejecting them and flipping the container.

If this were an isolated problem, it would be another matter, but many of the objects used to solve the puzzles just don't "feel right," or they aren't heavy or light enough, which causes a lot of frustrating moments.

The number of puzzles and the ability to play in the sandbox outside the scripted puzzles ensures Scribblenauts has some extended play life. Online players can also use the built-in level editor to create their own puzzles and share them with others.

Nintendo DS owners will find the game to be a fun diversion, and even with the odd object physics, Scribblenauts really can entertain players of all levels.

Click to to listen to the Game On! podcast. This week, Sean Vanaman of Telltale Games discusses the Tales of Monkey Island series.


System: Nintendo DS

Price: $40

Players: 1

Rated: E10+ for Everyone 10 and older

Who Should Buy It?: Puzzle Pioneers

GameOn! Grade: B