To say that Super Scribblenauts is a true sequel to 5th Cell’s 2009 genius but flawed puzzler would be a bit of an exaggeration. The developers themselves refrained from giving it a numerical title but instead claim it to be a superior version of the original. And for all intense purposes, it is just that. Though in some weird twist of fate, Super Scribblenauts may have rid itself from the bigger problems of its predecessor but also lost a bit of the charm too.
The premise of the game hasn’t changed from the first title; Maxwell, the rooster-hat wearing boy, is met with a number of puzzles that can only be solved by inserting objects or entities into the game environment to answer a specific task. When complete, he is rewarded with a Starite for his troubles and at least two more levels are unlocked. This time around and what became a major marketing factor for Super Scribblenauts was how adjectives can be assigned to nouns, hoping to add a new dimension to the game mechanics. You can call forth a green, hairy pelican or a giant, yellow titan if you thought it would solve the puzzle but, even though there’s an element of fun coming up with weird and wonderful combinations, the adjectives aren’t really integral to a lot of the game. To encourage the use of descriptions, 5th Cell pepper the game with levels that can only be completed by using adjectives. Because of this, there where times when these levels felt forced, even obscure at times and oddly gave a once totally open game a set of rules. I answered one puzzle with an item that was better suited to the situation but was denied completion until I found what the developers wanted. Contrasting this negative is how some of the forced adjective levels are superb. A whole new way of approaching Super Scribblenauts is opened up before you and it makes the poorer levels seem such a shame in comparison.
Thankfully, Super Scribblenauts has over a 100 puzzles to solve with the aforementioned obligatory adjective missions mixed up among those that can be completed any way you please. A decent combination of very easy to troublingly hard levels are on offer with a lot of fantastic minutes of gameplay found in no other series. But huddling round some entertaining moments are levels that can only be described as filler. It maybe the younger audience that 5th Cell is trying to appeal to but at times the answers were so glaringly obvious that it took some of the joy out of it. The mixture of difficulty is quite severe but because of the numerous levels available at any one time, the possibility of getting truly stuck is rather slim. And even if you do, the level creator is a perfect way to relieve stress and get back at your friends. It’s fairly robust and allows users to make puzzles that are identical in quality to those of the developers.
Even though the new adjectives system doesn’t always seem a positive inclusion, the other new features are definite winners. Vastly improved controls mean that Maxwell can be moved with the d-pad and not just awkwardly tapping the touch screen as in the first Scribblenauts. The new method is by no means perfect but does the job with a lot well enough. A breadcrumb-style indicator at the top of the screen shows how many steps are needed to complete a level too so there’s less time staring at your DS in confusion for what to do next – unless of course you come across a particularly tricky level. These two features alone are more than welcome but on top of them, the developers added a hint system where up to three tips can be purchased with Ollars (currency obtained at the end of levels or by writing new words). A lot of the time it was not needed but a few shameful occasions that had me fooled were resolved thanks to the hints.
Conjuring up what seemed to be a limitless number of nouns in Scribblenauts resulted in a genuine thrill whereas doing the same in the follow up is more like a positive chuckle. The novelty and charm has worn slightly but is still entertaining enough to have those fun moments where you and a group of friends swap notes on puzzle solutions. Thats when Super Scribblenauts is at its best. That and the superior controls, hint system and task manager. They separate the game far enough from its predecessor to make it a worthwhile experience for anyone who owns Scribblenauts but newcomers will be the ones who’ll fully reap the rewards of this neat little puzzler.
Entertaining and worthy of your time but still room for improvement.