Old games from the 90s: Puzzle-action Scribblenauts is one of the most popular old games from the 90s for the Nintendo DS that promises the ability to solve puzzles using virtually anything the player can dream up. It was developed by 5th Cell, published by Warner Bros. Interactive, and released on September 15, 2009.
Scribblenauts won numerous “Best of E3 Awards” during E3 2009. This is 5th Cell’s third game, the first two were Drawn to Life and Lock’s Quest.
Old games from the 90s – Scribblenauts Overview, Nintendo DS Word-Based Puzzle Game
Fear not, this is not Scrabble(TM) or Word Coach. However, Scribblenauts is a word-based puzzle game in a sense. It features a massive set of puzzle and action levels, which requires players to use their imaginations and write words which become real objects in the game. Write “Chain” and the game creates a chain, which can be attached at either end. Write “Zombie” and a zombie comes to life and attacks other people, turning them into zombies. Due to the open-ended nature of the game, the solutions to Scribblenauts’ puzzles is limited only to the player’s creativity.
Word-Based Gameplay: To solve puzzles, players must invoke various objects, creatures, tools, and weapons by simply typing or writing the word into the Nintendo DS via Stylus. Will Maxwell (the main character) travel across the open water by Submarine? Or will he fly over the lake with a Helicopter? The options are incredibly open-ended.
According to the game’s manual, however: “Keep in mind that the game won’t recognize words that are copyrighted, vulgar, or inappropriate.” So no flinging poo at Donald Trump. Other than these reasonable limitations, the game recognizes a dictionary-sized amount of words – even God can make an appearance if the player so wishes!
Open-ended Playground: Before the player even has a chance to enter a name for a save file, the game allows for never ending play in the Playground or “Main Menu.” Players can summon anything they want and play around: summon a forest and then light it ablaze with a flamethrower! Unleash a zombie outbreak and snipe the undead safely above head while riding a blimp! The Playground is the best place for a player’s imagination to run wild.
Action and Puzzle Levels 220 in Total:
Scribblenauts is split between Action and Puzzle levels, with 10 different worlds (each with its own theme), and 11 Action and 11 Puzzle levels for each world. Action puzzles are typically more straightforward challenges, while puzzle levels require solving some kind of special objective.
Both ultimately requires attaining a “Starite” (star-shaped treasure) to complete. After finishing a level, it is open and available for modification using the level editor, allowing gamers the option to create their own levels and share with friends via WiFi connection. Players can also challenge themselves to solve the same puzzles over again, only in a different way using the different words.
Scribblenauts offers a truly unique game with a variety of challenges, puzzles, and extra features.
Scribblenauts Review by Gamepro – Summary
“Navigating the well crafted levels and figuring out the best way to solve the ingenious puzzles was a true joy. I also found myself laughing out loud several times at the game’s inherent charm and humor.” Gamepro – read the full review here
Gamepro writer Tae Kim gave Scribblenauts for the Nintendo DS a 5 out of 5.
Tae was impressed with the sheer size and magnitude of this game, noting that the “in-game dictionary is absolutely stellar, with an insane number of items, both useful and obscure, for you to play with.” Tae also commends the developers for creating so many enjoyable Easter eggs such as “Time Machine” and “Your Mom.”
But Gamepro was not without its complaints. The controls often result in frustrating deaths and the physics can cause bizarre mishaps. Scribblenauts is fairly limited in the amount of objects available in a level at one time, and it’s not possible to combine items (for example, food + sleeping pill).
In the end, though, Tae concludes that Scribblenauts is a truly innovative and enjoyable experience.
“So go buy Scribblenauts and play it to death. Give it to your friends and family members. Discover unique and interesting solutions. Find obscure objects and unearth strange combinations. Then post them to message boards and YouTube and share the magic with others.”
Scribblenauts Review by IGN – Summary
“This wholly original Nintendo DS game absolutely lives up to its ambition, even if it frustrates along the way.” IGN – read the full review here
IGN gave Scribblenauts for Nintendo DS a 8.7 / 10.
Similar to Gamepro, IGN’s Nintendo DS reviewer Craig Harris praises Scribblenauts for being an incredibly ambitious game that absolutely delivers what it promises. It allows for hours of fun just playing around before even realizing that “there’s actually a game to play!”
But, unlike Gamepro, IGN wasn’t nearly as forgiving for the controls in Scribblenauts. “It’s something that almost kills a fantastic game … it’s a hindrance that you have to deal with throughout the Scribblenauts experience.”
IGN concludes that while the controls will frustrate and frustrate all too frequently, it is still “one of the top titles on the Nintendo DS platform.”
Another Take – Giant Bomb
Unlike IGN and Gamepro, Giant Bomb found the Scribblenauts experience to be far more frustration than fun. “The concept here is a fantastic one, but the game that’s wrapped around it is poorly realized.”
For more scathing critique of Scribblenauts on Nintendo DS, head on over to Giant Bomb to read the full review.
Scribblenauts for Nintendo DS – Conclusion
As of September 23, 2009, Scribblenauts for the Nintendo DS has a Metacritic rating of 82 (based on 25 reviews) and a user rating of 7.7 (based on 44 votes).
Scribblenauts is widely praised for its innovation, attention to detail, and open-ended gameplay and puzzles. However, some reviewers could not get over the frustrating controls and occasionally wonky physics. It sounds like gamers looking for something different will love Scribblenauts if they can accept the frustrating controls.
Interested in more video game overviews? Check out this overview of Halo 3: ODST for the Xbox 360.