Scribblenauts Review

The concept behind Scribblenauts makes it sound like the greatest portable game, ever. Unfortunately, the game falls short due to its technical difficulties. While you can summon just about anything you might want into the world by writing or typing it out, many of the items can be unwieldy. This would be forgivable if not for simple things like rope being among the long list of items that are a huge pain to use, and you use rope and other "rope-like" objects frequently.

The problem with rope is it starts out as a long, horizontal object. The game does not recognize rope as an object that is flexible so it does not allow you to attach it to anything until it is clear of any obstacles. This means you have to twirl it around with the stylus until it fits into whatever spot you want it.

In the beginning of the game you're told that things like glue and rope are affected by gravity. Supposedly glue will not hold objects that are too heavy for it and rope will break under too much stress. Well, I guess this stuff is some sort of super, space-age tech adhesive because I've yet to see anything glue won't hold. That does not bother me, but what about rope? Rope isvery heavy according to the game's physics. I tried to set up an elaborate contraption and my whole plan fell apart right away when I attached rope to a boulder and watched as the rope dangled off a cliff and pulled the huge, heavy rock off the cliff! The game does not recognize weights of many of the objects.

Levers are another object in the game that become very tiresome and you see one in practically every level in the later worlds. There are ways to pull the lever without requiring Maxwell, but they're very boring. Typing in "Engineer" will summon a man in overalls who becomes very interested in levers and pulls them for you, but how boring is that? You can even move him all over the map to any lever you want if you wish. Scribblenauts failed me when I was playing an early map where I needed to pull my first lever. I wanted to be really creative, so I stuck glue to the lever, stuck a banana to the glue, and summoned a monkey. Knowing that monkey's have a great love for bananas I was overjoyed to see my newly created monkey did indeed love them and watched as he pulled the banana off to eat it. The lever moved from left to right, but the gate did not open. I tried it a couple of times and each time the monkey grabbed the banana, the lever would switch positions, and nothing would happen. It seems only some objects and Maxwell can actually interact with the game environment.

Finally, the controls are also troublesome. When playing Scribblenauts you're likely to have Maxwell killed over and over due to just missing the object you wanted to grab with your stylus and causing Maxwell to run over to where you clicked. Maxwell should have been controlled by the D-pad and buttons, not the stylus. This wouldn't be so horrible if it didn't cause you to have to restart the entire level over from scratch repeatedly.

This list of complaints could go on, but the point I want to make is that simple objects that you use quite often (like rope) are usually a pain in later, more cramped levels and levers can kill your creativity. The game seems to want to force you to use ham-fisted solutions. Wombat, a host of the Cheap Ass Gamer podcast, had a good point when he said any puzzle in Scribblenauts can be solved with a rope and a jet pack, and he's right. Not only is he right but the game seems to want you to do so.

Scribblenauts is a fun game, but it's not a game I'd choose to play on a long trip for extended periods of time. I had hoped it would suck up hours of my life, but instead I can only enjoy it for short periods of time. The botched control scheme and levels that require the same objects over and over become boring very quickly. I wanted to love Scribblenauts, but find that I only like it enough to keep it in my DS when I'm not playing fantastic games like Professor Layton.

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