"Unlimited Possibilities, Limited Depth"
Have you ever wondered what would happen if a giant duck fought a flying giraffe? Well, if you have, you now have the opportunity to find out with Scribblenauts Unlimited on the Wii U. Unlimited is the third game in the popular series, but the first to appear on a home console, with the first two seeing only handheld releases on the Nintendo DS. Does the game translate well to home consoles, or should it have stayed exclusively as a handheld title? Read on for the full GD review!
For those of you who are unaware, the premise of Scribblenauts is simple. You play as Maxwell, and his goal is to collect Starites from various areas in the game world. The lure of the game comes from Maxwell's magic notebook, which he uses to create anything that will interact with the game's pre-created objects and humans. Using the notebook allows Maxwell to solve puzzles across the world and gain the needed Starites.
Upon loading Scribblenauts Unlimited for the first time, we're greeted with an actual story, a first for the series. Maxwell's notebook was a gift from his parents, and he didn't always use it for good. Coming across an old and hungry man, Maxwell feeds him a rotten apple, and in return, the man places a curse on Maxwell's sister, Lily. The curse slowly causes Lily to turn to stone, and Maxwell needs to collect Starites to reverse the curse. The plot is pretty thin, and outside of occasional visits back to see Lily, you won't notice it at all throughout the game.
The biggest change to the series comes in the form of an overworld map, which assuming you have enough Starites, you're able to navigate freely. The linear nature of the first two games where you would solve a puzzle and move to the next one is gone. There are bigger puzzles in each section of the map that earn you Starites, but each area also has small, one-off tasks that net you shards. If you can collect all of the shards in that area, you're rewarded with another Starite. The puzzles aren't difficult for most players even by Scribblenauts standards, and there doesn't appear to be any punishment for using the same items over and over again. The real joy of the game comes in trying to solve the puzzles in the most creative ways possible, instead of relying on the same methods over and over. Characters from the Mario and Zelda worlds are also available for use in the game, though they cannot be edited or enhanced in any way. For younger players, Scribblenauts Unlimited could definitely be seen as a learning tool. Problem solving is the prime objective of the game, and since there's a strict language and adult filter built in, there's no way kids could be exposed to anything that they shouldn't be.
Maxwell can be controlled using the GamePad's control sticks, but most of the work will be done using the stylus. Everything works seamlessly with the controls and the game. The game can also be taken exclusively to the GamePad if someone else wants to use the TV, and while that's great, it does lead to one of the bigger problems with the game. Since you have to look at the GamePad frequently, the TV really becomes an afterthought. When Scribblenauts was announced as a console title, many wondered if it was really just better suited for the handheld systems, and nothing drives the point home more than the complete lack of a need for the television. It's going to be interesting to see how both Nintendo and third-party developers handle this going forward.
The Scribblenauts creation center is where the more creative types will spend a lot of their time. Players can edit any object in the game or create their own from scratch, just like in the main campaign. Once complete, they can then upload their creations online for the world to use. The system is robust, allowing players to choose not only appearances, but also how they interact with the world and items around them. The one complaint about the center is that it can be a little cumbersome to navigate, but it's a minor gripe. Want to create a dinosaur with wheels? What about a winged fireplace that terrorizes the city below? All of it is possible, and the team at 5th Cell should be commended for how good the system really is.
The presentation is interesting, because it all really depends on what you think of the art style. Graphically, Scribblenauts Unlimited looks beautiful with the added HD boost really showing when you actually lift your head up from the GamePad, but admittedly, the cute art style won't be for everyone. The music isn't really ever noticed, but the audio from the creations you bring to life is solid. Everything sounds the way it should, which is impressive for a game with a vocabulary of this magnitude.
With Scribblenauts Unlimited, you really can imagine anything and explore everything as their ad campaign says, within their limits of course. There isn't a whole lot of depth here, and veteran players will be able to plow through the game fairly quickly, but even in their third installment, it's tough to not be impressed. The creation center is massive, and even though the game is short, there is some level of replayability if you want to really test the limits of your creativity. Despite a few hiccups, Scribblenauts Unlimited is one of the best games available for the Wii U launch.
GameDynamo's Score for Scribblenauts Unlimited (Wii U)
A lifelong Nintendo fan and sports junkie, Adam is from Toronto and a proud Canadian. If he's not writing or playing games, you can probably find him on the golf course.
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