Super Scribblenauts Review

Video games don’t typically give you real-world freedom, but rather the illusion of freedom. It’s a common disappointment to fire a shotgun at a door, and have nothing happen. It’s just an illusion. Your imagination is constantly smacking into all sorts of these invisible walls. Wish you had Ninja Stars in Call of Duty? Too bad. You just don’t, soldier. Deal with it.

Super Scribblenauts (DS [Reviewed])
Developer: 5th Cell
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Release Date: October 12, 2010
MSRP: $29.99

The 2009 DS puzzle game Scribblenauts simply said “to hell with that.” You are Maxwell, a happy little guy tasked with solving puzzles. Rather than give you an inventory of ready-made tools to solve these puzzles, Scribblenauts invited you to use your imagination — think of a noun, type it on the keyboard using the Stylus, and it will appear in the game, behaving as it naturally would. Need to get across a lake and feed a tiger? Give yourself “Wings,” fly across, and feed the tiger a “Wizard.” Why not? You can do whatever you want.

Now Super Scribblenauts is here, and your imagination is further liberated with the addition of “Adjectives.” Keeping the above example, Super Scribblenauts lets you create “Fiery Polka Dot Wings,” and feed a “Giant Furry Wizard” to the Tiger. Tee hee! I literally made that sound while playing this game. It’s crazy.

More examples: Regular Dragons are so 2009. You need a “Tiny Sad Dragon,” of course, who will mope around. If a Library is too boring for your town, why not make it a “Floating Wacky Library?”

The addition of adjectives shoots the concept into outer space. You can even create different types of “Potions,” for different desired effects. Create a “Sleeping Potion” to put a guard to bed, or make a “Poison Sword” to take down a bunch of Orcs.

There’s a lot of pleasure to be derived from simply trying to stump the game, and use nouns or adjectives you don’t think it knows. This will lead to some pleasant surprises, for sure. In a level where I had to create a girlfriend for a giant robot, I had to first start with a construction material. I jokingly typed “Adamantium.” Bam: Super Scribblenauts has freaking Adamantium.

This is what really makes the game fun — it brings out the kid in you, letting you run rampant in a magical, linguistic sandbox.

Another level asked me to build a clown with two separate parts. I went: “Funny Bum,” + “Clown Costume” = Clown, and it worked. I love that it let me say Clowns are Bums! There’s little moments of humor and wit hidden throughout the game here, and it’s a joy discovering them.

One new addition to the game that keeps it moving is the “Merits” system. These are basically Achievements, which you’ll unlock as you use new words, new objectives, and come up with especially creative solutions. You can also replay levels to unlock Gold Crowns, which are awarded after completing the level three times in a row using different approaches each time.

Super Scribblenauts has 10 distinct “worlds” to play through, each with about 10 levels, for a total of 120 puzzles. This took me about 8 hours to play through. Even after you beat the main game, you can jump in to the level editor, make your own levels and share them over the DS’s wi-fi. If you want more challenge, jump into the “Special Constellations,” which are tough action-oriented puzzles that often involve flipping levers with precise timing.

The first Scribblenauts was not perfect, and neither is Super Scribblenauts. Moving Maxwell around is certainly easier, but selecting objects is not. Maxwell often has a bunch of objects attached to his person: shoes, a cape, a hat, a jet pack, and so on. If you want to remove one specific object, it’s a bit of a pain. You’ll need to just start stripping Maxwell of objects, in hopes that the one you want comes off soon. You can’t precisely pick.

Also, trying to grab specific objects simply doesn’t work very well. You’ll often walk in the direction you’re clicking, or select the wrong object.

These don’t even come close to breaking the experience though. Super Scribblenauts is a wonderful game that improves on the original. It’s Mad-Libs-meets-LEGOs, it’s even more fun with the addition of adjectives, and there’s a bunch of reasons to dig back in once you beat it.

Go dream up some Frothy Funny Giant Striped Cthulu monsters already.

Super Scribblenauts is out October 12, 2010, exclusively for the Nintendo DS.

Adjectives are a blast to use
Lets your imagination run wild
“Merits” system is a cool Achievement-style edition
Refined controls
Cool level editor

Selecting objects is glitchy
Some of the puzzles are too easy

Overall Score: 91/100

Like cute indie puzzlers? Got a copy of Ilomilo? Check out our complete game guide!

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