Scribblenauts Unlimited Review
Can video games be both fun and educational? It’s a delicate balance to achieve, one that often leaves gamers frustrated and/or bored when attempted. However, 5th Cell’s long-running Scribblenauts series of educational games seems to be one of the few that can pull it off with panache, forcing gamers to turn to their dictionaries instead of GameFAQs. With Scribblenauts Unlimited now available, is it worth gamers’ while to expand their vernaculars?
Those unfamiliar with Maxwell and his magical notepad can still jump in to Scribblenauts Unlimited without much trouble. The concept remains the same as its DS and iOS brethren; collect Starites by any means necessary. A light plot involving the rescue of your sister from a curse is a welcome addition, but it is put on the backburner past the animated opening and serves as nothing more than window dressing for your grand adventure. Each land plays host to different denizen that are united in their need for a solution to their everyday problems. During your duties, you’ll be doing everything from playing cupid on a man’s first date to stopping the schoolyard bully as you jump from land to land. However, the process of completing these tasks is a completely different story.
Rather than jumping on everybody’s heads or gunning the world down to stardust, success in Scribblenauts Unlimited lies in the protagonist Maxwell’s handy-dandy notebook. By typing a (non-offensive, not trademarked) noun or adjective, you can make that thing or characteristic a reality. The in-game dictionary packs more words than War and Peace, and single world featured has an accompanying object to match. The lack of verbs and adverbs is disheartening, but having access to those action words would no doubt make the game too easy. Besides, flexing one’s brain will no doubt bring about another solution to virtually every single problem in the game.
Speaking of those ol’ brain muscles, the open-ended approach to problem solving in Scribblenauts Unlimited is ultimately what makes the game so fun. Those who play the game by the books through routine solutions will quickly tire from its ordinary scenarios. The trick is to make the most of the game world. Need to clean a pig? Cast forth a typhoon! A carnival game got you down? Summon a meteor! The level of creativity found here is only rivaled by titles like The Sims, and dinking around can sometimes be even more fun than the main objectives the game has to offer. You’ve got a magic notebook; why not use it?
Sadly, the repetitive nature of Scribblenauts Unlimited sets in far too quickly. The game boils down to getting Starites to unlock more areas…to get even more Starites to unlock even more areas. This grind isn’t too much a problem, but its single-minded endgame objective makes it more suitable for smaller play sessions.
Scribblenauts Unlimited proves that games can not only fun, but also educational as well. You might not become a poet laurite afterwards, but who knows? You just might learn a new word or two.
The best game to ever require a dictionary.