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Wasted Potential - Super Scribblenauts Review
Last year, developer 5th Cell provided a fun and unique gameplay experience on the Nintendo DS with Scribblenauts. The game allowed you to type the names of objects and living creatures in order to solve puzzles. It was different from much of what gamers had seen before, and the game’s open-endedness made for some crazy solutions to puzzles that could otherwise be solved rather monotonously. This year, 5th Cell is at it again, and this time they’ve thrown adjectives into the mix as well as revamped controls. Sadly, though the promise is there, Super Scribblenauts doesn’t retain the magic of its predecessor.
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Super Scribblenauts Gameplay
The first Scribblenauts was great because it allowed you to do something as simple as rescuing a kitten from a rooftop by conjuring up a Pegasus and lassoing in the feline rather than just climbing a ladder and grabbing the little guy. This time around, Super Scribblenauts is a lot more demanding and doesn’t invite outside-the-box thinking as much. This is because many of the game’s puzzles aren’t very open-ended and instead require you to summon specific objects.
One example is a level where you must provide different customers with a vehicle that suits them. Each of these characters, be it the bride, the hippie, or the goth chick, has to be provided a car, and it has to be a specific color. You can’t grant the bride a black limo; it has to be white. Want to give the hippie an old yellow van? Sorry, but you’ll have to provide a green vehicle for the 1970s non-conformist. Oh, and don’t even think about summoning a horse, because this particular puzzle only allows mechanical modes of transportation. It’s a bit of a letdown and a total shame that something such as the color of the object doesn’t allow you to progress.
One thing worth praising in Super Scribblenauts is the new multi-objective system. Many of game’s levels are multi-tiered and require you to fulfill a specific number of objectives. In one level, you must start by helping an archaeologist find a hidden monument. After providing a map or atlas for the archaeologist, you must dig underneath the monument to see what lies underground. Once you uncover some bones, you must place them on a set of tables in the proper order (from skull to foot). Then you have to provide the archaeologist with something to assemble the skeleton. Having to fulfill multiple objectives is a brilliant idea, but even some of these stages are hampered with specific restrictions.
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Level Editor returns this year, and now you have more options to choose from. You can create levels where all you need to do is reach the Starite. Another template has you protecting a group of characters while you defeat another team. You can even create your own title screen to play around with. You’re likely to have some fun creating levels, but even this mode comes with its share of own flaws. Because Level Editor is based around the same engine that powers Super Scribblenauts, you can create your own levels, but be prepared to incorporate specific solutions into them rather than leaving the window of creativity wide open for your friends if you choose to share your creations with them online or locally.
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Graphics and Sound
Super Scribblenauts is right on par with its predecessor in terms of presentation. The game’s visuals have a colorful hand-drawn look to them, and everything from animals to monsters exude a great deal of charm. The game’s sound is taken right out of the first Scribblenauts, with many themes returning and a few new tracks thrown into the mix. The game’s look and sound are both great and easily outshine the actually gameplay, which is sad to say.
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Super Scribblenauts Review - Overall Score
You may get a kick out Super Scribblenauts at first. But once you realize how many restrictions there are to most of the game’s puzzles, you’ll want to go back to the first game and relive those levels, even if you have to suffer through the questionable controls. It’s a shame that this game didn’t live up to the standards set forth by its predecessor because Super Scribblenauts has all the potential to be a great title. There are some fun moments to be had, specifically when playing Level Editor mode and just experimenting by calling forth some crazy creations. Sadly, a great deal of potential, some excellent new additions, and improved controls aren’t enough to make Super Scribblenauts as great as it should have been.