As far as puzzle-word-action-adventure-hotdog-radioactive-penguin-shark games go, Scribblenauts Unlimited is right up there. It's the easiest game in the Scribblenauts series but that doesn't take much away from its sense of creativity and freedom.
The game's been released on a number of platforms, but if you were one of the many that managed to pick up a Wii U at launch, it should have been accompanied by a copy of Scribblenuats Unlimited, and if it wasn't, you need to go and buy a copy now.
Scribblenauts games are charming toy boxes of randomness and creativity, and this latest game is no exception to the rule. Scribblenauts Unlimited has all of the best attributes of past Scribblenauts games.
"It’s a game about imagination. It’s a game about creativity. It’s a game about puzzles. It’s a game about letting your mind run wild," says CEO and creative director of 5TH Cell, Jeremiah Slaczka.
With the inclusion of adjectives, an open world, and the addition of the object editor, this game is bigger than the others in every way possible, according to Slaczka.
For the first time in Scribblenauts history we're being treated to a little of Maxwell's backstory. For a character as iconic and cheerful as Maxwell, it's great to finally discover why he's doing what he's doing in the Scribblenauts world.
"We’ve always sort of had an idea of what Maxwell’s past was about and why he was collecting the Starites. But we really filled it out with a lot of detail for Scribblenauts Unlimited," says Slaczka.
The pulling power of Scribblenauts Unlimited is its functionality with the GamePad. Writing words and creating objects to help solve a puzzle are tasks that work well on the controller’s touch-screen, and I found myself interacting and watching the GamePad more than I did the television. That level of functionality is important in maintaining the series’ portable feel, which has helped define it since the first game’s release. Being able to walk away from my television and play a console version of Scribblenauts on the large GamePad screen is fantastic.
"I can’t overemphasize how much of a dream-come-true it was when we first saw the Wii U and the GamePad," explains Slaczka. "Scribblenauts Unlimited had been in development for the Wii for a while, but we were seriously struggling on how to make typing easy and fun with the Wiimote. We didn’t want to force anyone to buy a peripheral accessory. Then we got our hands on the Wii U and, needless to say, the rest is history."
Community and content sharing plays an important role in the Scribblenauts Unlimited experience. While the game doesn't use Nintendo's Miiverse social community, it relies on a great internal community to keep people creating and sharing.
"Using the fast-travel map, you travel to an area called 'Punctuation Plaza,'" quips Slaczka. "When you enter, you’ll be at your own personal storefront where you can upload objects to share with the community. You can also walk around the Plaza and view other users’ storefronts and their objects which you can download, too!"
The Wii U's best feature is, of course, the Gamepad. Not only does it allow you play console games like Scribblenauts Unlimited portably, but also it offers interesting multiplayer functionality for a truly unique competitive experience.
When asked about Scribblenauts Unlimited's multiplayer, Slaczka says it's more cooperative, but that the game's openness allows gamers to turn it into something a little more competitive.
"Player 1, who holds the GamePad, can summon objects. Players 2-3 can embody those objects using the Wiimotes. Once they’ve possessed the objects, they have free reign to do as they please (help or hurt player 1!)"
The balancing act in creating Scribblenauts Unlimited was in making a game that wasn't overly challenging, wasn't intimidating, but also pushed you to get creative and inventive. The game, thankfully, does a fantastic job of keeping things simple but not particularly easy, making for a very engaging and satisfying experience.
Scribblenauts Unlimited is, as Slaczka eloquently puts it, "as fun as you make it".
"Sure, you can solve a puzzle by typing 'cat', but why put that when you could summon a 'mammoth, fairy-winged, pregnant, ocelot'? Solutions are very open by design. We want players to use their creativity to solve puzzles and not feel stifled because their awesome solutions don’t work, but we don’t want them to feel like they can’t just play simply if that’s what they prefer. So we keep a balance by leaving the choice to the player."
Scribblenauts Unlimited is currently available for Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and PC. Check out MMGN.com's review here.