By Corey Murtha
I finally get my hands on 5th Cell’s Scribblenauts and what happens? I lose two straight hours of my life flying around in a jet pack and shooting a rocket launcher at helpless boogey monsters, cowboys and crocodiles. Drawing from its Nintendo DS counterparts, Scribblenauts Remix for iOS combines basic objectives with the endless creativity of the player. If you can think it, you can make it part of the game.
For the uninitiated, 2D side scrolling platform puzzler Scribblenauts is built around a basic concept. Type the name of an object (any object), include creative adjectives (any adjectives) and use your creation to help your character attain the star in each level. Some things you create can be equipped by your character (named Maxwell in the game) or his allies. It’s more of a creative brainstorming exercise than a traditional game, or at least a game in the same sense that playing with Legos is a game. The iOS version, ported by Iron Galaxy Studios, includes levels from the original Nintendo DS game, its sequel, and ten brand new levels.
Level objectives include things like help the mad scientist turn into a dragon, or populate the horror movie set with appropriate props. In one particular level, you’re tasked with helping a heavily armored knight cross a body of water where a hungry crocodile swims. One method to solve this might be to write the word “lightning,” send the lightning to strike the water to kill the crocodile, then write “raft,” move your character and the knight onto the raft, and cross the water unscathed. Or, you could write the words “giant leviathan,” which summons a giant mythical water serpent that kills the crocodile, then kills you and the knight. This, however, results in failure. You could also try my personal favorite method, strapping on a jet pack and bombarding the crocodile with rocket shells, bananas, ice cream cones or anything else you can think of. Prefix creative adjectives to your nouns and you can summon a “huge pink banana” a “shy monster” or a “love potion,” all of which have different implications in the game depending on the situation.
At some point, you may need to summon a dangerous predator into a level. However, in order to attain the star, your character and any allies must survive to the end. This is a situation where it might be more helpful to write “sleeping lion,” rather than “ravaging sabertooth.” The key is to think outside the box, which leads to a richer overall experience and appreciation for the game’s deep database. There is some crossover in the game’s dictionary. Writing “artist” will result in the same French beret wearing gasbag as “painter.” But this is rare.
The port makes sense for iOS. Considering the integration of the touch keyboard and multi-touch, the interface is smooth and intuitive. It can be difficult at times selecting a smaller object in the game world, given the relatively small screen on an iPhone and relative fatness of a human finger. This isn’t much of an issue, though, since gameplay in Remix is rarely time sensitive.
Scribblenauts Remix runs a bit short for a $4.99 game, considering how many hours a $0.99 game from the Apple Store can get you nowadays. However, there is plenty of potential for add-on content, something the best iOS games are prone to do. No matter what, it’s worth the refreshing experience; just forgo your venti non-fat, 6 pump extra hot chai tea latte for a day.
Rating: 5 Stars