Scribblenauts early impressions

UPDATE: See my extended impressions for more information on Scribblenauts

Thanks to the foolishness or generousity of an unnamed retailer, I was able to get my hands on a copy of Scribblenauts early and now spend a lot of whatever free time I have playing said game. It’s not without its flaws however and occasionally they do become a tad annoying.

My first thoughts on Scribblenauts (hey that rhymes…) was on the reason for developers 5th Cell choosing the art style they did. It’s similar to LittleBigPlanet in the sense that the environments and characters look as if they are hand made only with Scribblenauts world appearing to only be made out of paper. Interesting but still a bit puzzling as to why. To look cute? For simplicity? Either way it works and gives the game charm but still makes me wonder why…


The idea of Scribblenauts is easy to grasp – help a friendly looking chap called Maxwell collect a Starite winning him Ollars to spend on unlocking more puzzles, music or avatars. To do this I had to solve a puzzle that would either reveal the 5 pointed desirable or allow me to get at it. But it’s the mechanics and almost infinite number of solutions that make the game so appealing. For example; one puzzle asked me to help with a child’s party (not exact wording) where I was faced with a group of kids – one being the birthday boy – and a pinata. Solving the puzzle was done by giving the child a bat to brake open the ethnic candy box. But a bat wasn’t just lying around, I opened up my trusty on-screen notepad and wrote (by tapping a qwerty keyboard) the word ‘baseball bat’ which appeared as of by magic so Maxwell was able to hand to the child. I could have written gun, sling shot or even just baseball and either of these would have allowed the kid to break the pinata and reveal the Starite. Pretty much anything is possible and for the most part, there are no right or wrong answers – unless or course a specific question is asked (more on that later) The only limitations being a real name of something (i.e. Mars bar), race, religion or vulgarity – these are all forbidden but naturally, like all childish-minded folk, were the first I tried to write.

A vast majority of the time, whatever was written was accepted or at least a list would come up offering other words if mine was misspelled. Occasionally the game just didn’t recognise what I was typing at all or worse, presented me with something I didn’t want. All puzzles have a par to them – par 2 for instance meaning I would rewarded extra Ollars if I completed the puzzle with less than 2 items. So when the game gave me something I didn’t mean due to misunderstanding what was written, it dented my chances of scoring under par. Bizarre seeing as the game has the ability to offer a checklist of misspelt words as I would have much preferred a similar list to if the game wasn’t clear as to what I had written. Collision detection of objects can sometimes be a bit iffy but isn’t as damaging to the Ollar count. Another slight gripe is what I mentioned earlier about when faced with a specific question. One puzzle asking me to ‘give Santa something he likes but does not already have’. A Christmas tree, reindeer and other obvious choices were near by so clearly none of them. The solution was ‘a child’…yes the thing Santa likes but does not have is a child. Questionable undertones aside, it felt a little strange to have to think in this way when other puzzles are so unrestricted with resolutions. Only a minor gripe I must add as it’s still amusing to solve these puzzles they just feel a tad out of place almost. Yes they do still involve lateral thinking but not quite to the same degree as the others.

Despite the ‘blips’ Scribblenauts has, I’m still very much enjoying the gameplay and – most of the time – having the freedom to solve a puzzle in whatever way I can think of. With the inclusion of a level editor and multiple solutions, Scribblenauts feels almost endless. I’m still happily working my way through all the puzzles (hence why this is not a full review) but so far am delighted with what I’m playing. One tip I would recommend may be cliche but will add longevity to the title: think outside the box. Having the most peculiar resolutions are always the most fun to watch and even results in some interesting outcomes – try writing the word ‘teleporter‘ for example…

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One thought on “Scribblenauts early impressions

  1. Pingback: Scribblenauts extended impressions « Back For Two Seconds

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