Posing its “think it, create it, solve it” philosophy to portable gamers back in 2009, Scribblenauts wouldn’t struggle to resonate with gaming wordsmiths and those curious enough to put its lexicon to the test.
Though previous instalments have been confined to handhelds, Scribblenauts Unlimited sees this mantra retrofitted to the Wii U hardware or perhaps more appropriately, a living room experience.
It’s hardly pushing the Wii U’s questionable capabilities but continues to do what it does best.
The story goes that Maxwell and his sister were up to no good with the magic notebook and ended up pranking an unassuming old man. The tables are quickly turned when Maxwell’s sis is turned to stone and the red-hatted hoodlum must use the magic notebook for good to lift her curse.
The stage-by-stage set-up we’re accustomed to with is swapped for a Super Mario-eqse world map structure (one of more than a few Nintendo nods) with each area a platter of level types to tuck into as you please. Pop into any of these, and their contents unfurl with problematic locals who’ll reward your good deeds with shards or full Starites depending on the magnitude of their conundrum.
From a boulevard in need of a renovation, a high school filled with more angst-riddled teens than The Breakfast Club, and a fire station preparing for a zombie onslaught, Scribblenauts Unlimited isn’t short of zany set-ups designed to put your imagination through its paces.
Former ‘nauts should be familiar with the set up. Take a problem, think up a possible solution, jot down the tools you need and watch the results come to life. It’s a trick that Scribblenauts has peddled since the series’ debut in 2009 but manages to impress with a vast library of the ordinary bolstered by adjectives to concoct bizarre creations.
Scribblenauts Unlimited‘s many themes make its campaign by far one of the most interesting in the series but also the easiest – perhaps a concoction of Scribblenauts continuously mutating glossary. Items can’t just be summoned, they can be given life with an adjective.
And just when you thought gaming’s ingenious sandbox couldn’t get bigger, the Object Creator allows players to whip up their own objects from scratch and share them online with others.
An aside to this is the already prepared cast of Nintendo stars that’ll allow you to pluck out an assortment of Mario and Zelda favourites. They don’t serve much of a purpose but it’s nice to see them patter around the Scribblenauts universe.
Scribblenauts Unlimited sees the series continue to impress us with its feature set but it doesn’t quite establish itself from its portable groundings.
The big screen serves as little more as a viewing portal for all your musings to explode into action for all to see while the player themselves is consumed by the GamePad to steer Maxwell around and tap in their solutions. Friends can assume control of one of Maxwell’s creations by picking up a Wii Remote in a playful multiplayer fashion but this remains a largely single-player experience best confined to the GamePad.
There’s little here that’s not been seen before. The laughs, the gags, those unlikely solutions remain as entertaining as they have been in previous instalments. If you still can’t get enough of Scribblenauts, Scribblenauts Unlimited is a nice fit for the Wii U – just don’t expect Maxwell’s magic to leave you spellbound.