Work your brain with ‘Scribblenauts’

"Write anything, solve everything," is the catchphrase of "Scribblenauts" for the Nintendo DS and the game suits it well. Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and developed by 5th Cell, "Scribblenauts’" big hook is the ability for players to create almost anything they can think of.

The game is divided into two main modes; action levels task the player with simply collecting a "Starite" while using similar platformer clichés such as switches, traps and enemies to avoid. The creation mechanic is still used; however, the goal is basically the same in each level. Variation comes in the form of the actual layout and obstacles. Puzzle levels are the most interesting part of the game because they present the player with unique challenges for each level. One such example is getting a "Starite" down from a tree. Logical minded players can spawn a ladder to climb or a ball to knock it out. The fun, however, comes from coming up with ridiculous solutions, such as burning it with a flamethrower or using an obscure animal to get it. There are 100 of each action and puzzle levels, so players have plenty of room to stretch their imaginations.

Speaking of creativity, the amount of objects that the game recognizes is almost inconceivable. According to the developers, more than 22,000 words work. The engine that the game runs on allows similar objects to be created, so, for example, "box" creates the same object as "crate." There is also a spell checker to provide close matches to misspelled words or words the game doesn’t recognize. Working words include various forms of weapons, animals, vehicles, certain famous people and even Internet memes such as "Rickroll" and "Lolcat," among many others. Among some of the only restrictions are anything profane and trademarks; everything else is pretty much fair.

Unfortunately, the game does have some hang-ups. Some objects sometimes don’t work how the player intended and can lead to winning the level and not knowing why or needing to rethink the approach entirely. Another big problem is the control. Player movement is restricted to the stylus and the camera is controlled with the face buttons. This can sometimes be frustrating and cause cheap deaths. An option to switch control styles would have solved this. The variety of challenges and extras, such as a level editor, and purchasable items, such as avatars and music, somewhat make up for this. Overall though, the game is a unique new idea that works well for the most part and is an especially fun tool for the creative minded.

Ratings: 4.5 out 5

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