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Game Info:

Scribblenauts
Developed by: 5th Cell
Published by: WB Games
Release Date: September 15, 2009
Available on: DS
Genre: Puzzle
Mode: Single-player
ESRB Rating: E 10+
MSRP: $20

Scirbblenauts is an impressive title that relies on your imagination to complete each level.  You can write or type objects into existence to help you solve riddles.   Most levels have various solutions with multiple endings.  How many ways can you solve each level?  

When you solve a puzzle, you can unlock merits (achievements) and earn Ollars (money) to buy new avatars, songs and levels.   There are ten worlds with twenty-two levels each.  Half are puzzle oriented and the other half are action based. The goal in each level is to attain the star (Starite).  Sometimes the Starite is behind a sealed gate or dangling by a thread surrounded by lava. Other times it appears when certain conditions are met.  

The puzzle levels are the ones that have requirements that need to be met before you get the Starite.  One example is a level with a girl on a diving board and my goal was to get her to jump into the pool. I typed ghost and placed it on the diving board.  She jumped in a hurry.  I’m sure other solutions like a tornado or an air vent would have worked just as well.  

The action levels typically have several obstacles blocking access to the Starite.  Some of the levels are themed after movies or video games.  For example there’s a Back to the Future level where you have to get lightning to strike a rod or pole attached to your car.  I had to use racecar since DeLorean wasn’t in the game’s dictionary.  

Highlights:

Strong Points: Innovative and fun gameplay.
Weak Points: The controls are a bit lacking and the AI can be frustrating/suicidal at times.
Moral Warnings: Most violence is optional but there are some undead references and Halloween themed characters including witches, vampires, zombies and voodoo shamans.  

The dictionary is quite impressive, though.   Many of my solutions involved wings or a Pegasus and some rope.  I’ve also used behemoths, krakens, dragons, knights, tyrannosaurus rex (t rex works) and even God.  Some of my more creative solutions included a tractor beam, black holes and a shrink ray.  If you’re daring, you can also use the large hadron collider but your chances of surviving that are slim.    

Since this is a family friendly game there are some noticeably missing items.  I was not able to use wine as a solution for making a couple’s dinner more romantic.  Other crude terms are missing as well.  While you can kill in this game, it’s in a cartoon like manner and there is no blood.  You get merits for not killing in this game and some levels actually forbid it.  My kids love Scribblenauts and it really encourages them to think and use their imagination.  

As great as Scribblenauts is, it does have its flaws.  The trigger buttons rotate the objects, but everything else is done with the stylus.  A conflict occurs when you try to place an object and the main character (Maxwell) moves instead and puts himself into danger (often resulting in death).  Another issue is the frustrating task of rescuing AI characters that don’t cooperate and wind up getting themselves killed.  Super Scribblenauts is supposed to address these issues and I look forward to checking it out if I find it on sale.   

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 2/5

Morality Score - 92%
Violence - 7.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Even with its flaws Scribblenauts is a great pick up and play game.  There’s 220 levels altogether and if you solve all of those, you can create your own with the built in level editor.  There are network settings built into the game, so I’m assuming you can share your levels with friends.  There’s a section in the menu that suggested that there would be downloadable levels but after reading up on it, the option was scrapped at the last minute.

The rest of the game is well polished though.  I like the hand drawn cartoon style; it’s a little rugged but it works.  The running, jumping, and flying animations look good but the ladder climbing one can be improved upon.  The music is pleasant to listen to and you can change the tracks if you unlock them.

Overall I did enjoy this game but I also got annoyed with it at times as well.  My kids absolutely love it.  I picked up my copy on sale and if I see bargains on the sequels I’ll probably consider them.  I look forward to seeing if the sequels have some of the bugs ironed out.  Even still, this game is worth checking out.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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