Three years after the original Scribblenauts brought a unique experience to a world dominated by lazy sequels, 5th Cell’s innovative and charming puzzler is still driven by one of the most ambitious ideas in gaming history.
Rather than using items provided by the game designers to solve brainteasers, players are given the opportunity to conjure anything they can think of out to unravel puzzles (so long as it’s not copyrighted, gory or rude). And while cynical players have spent countless hours trying to catch the game out by inputting weird requests – from Jesus with a laser gun to HP Lovecraft’s dark lord Cthulhu – Scribblenauts never ceases to amaze in its ability to deliver whatever your heart desires, and offering players a myriad ways to crack the game’s conundrums.
But while this latest edition in the series retains the warm heart, intuitive interface and staggering imagination of its predecessors, Scribblenauts Unlimited is just too damned easy.
As well as presenting players with puzzles that seem less complex than in previous editions – which means experienced scribblers will rocket through the main game in a few cruelly-brief hours – the option to use adjectives, first implemented in Super Scribblenauts, allows unimaginative players to attach the word ‘dead’ to enemies that block their path, or using other potent modifiers to wriggle out of trouble (which, in Scribblenauts’ realm, is tantamount to cheating).
In the PC edition, using the keyboard to input words makes for a faster, cleaner experience, while the disappointing Wii U version fails to make best use of the dual-screen set-up and feels no more accomplished than its 3DS cousin. But with challenges that lack the sparkle of earlier versions, unimaginative problems that are a cinch to solve, and gameplay that soon becomes repetitive, the latest Scribblenauts fails to build on the glories of the series’ puzzling past.