Submitted by on September 17, 2009 Design Things


Scribblenauts is a puzzle game for the DS.  Puzzle games are pretty standard fare, right?  Well, Scribblenauts really kicks it up a notch.  The premise is simple: write down something.  Anything.  That thing will then materialize in game, and interact as you would expect it to.  Policemen chase crooks.  God fights the devil.  Lions eat meat.  Zombies turn people into other zombies.  You then use these elements to solve the puzzles in the game.

But what’s really impressive is just how vast the pool of objects is.  I performed a test of ten random nouns, to see how the game would fare.  Here’s the results:

  1. Architect – Out pops a little guy in a hard hat and coveralls.  I suspect this is just a synonym for “construction worker” and try that out.  Much to my surprise, it’s a totally different guy in a hardhat and safety vest.  Impressive.
  2. Crayon – A small, grey, vaguely crayon shaped object appears.  My character picks it up.  It doesn’t seem to do anything.  Then, I click on the architect and the construction worker, and it turns them pink!  I try “green crayon”, but it still turns things pink.
  3. Dolphin – A dolphin shows up.  Unfortunately, I’m on the land, so it just kind of sits there.  If I click on it, a ride option appears.  My character mounts up, and the dolphin actually starts making clicking noises.  I try “shark”, and the two of them battle to the death.  Dolphin wins.
  4. Gauge – A little clock-face or dial appears.  It doesn’t really do anything.  Then again, it’s just a gauge.  it’s not attached to anything.  What were you expecting it to do?  I turn it pink with my green crayon.  The dolphin won’t shut up now.
  5. Grain – A single shaft of wheat appears.  I try “rain” to see if I can make it grow.  I drop a rain cloud overtop, but nothing happens.  I finally draw “‘pool” for the dolphin, and drop him in it.  He stops chattering.
  6. Moustache – A brown, handlebar moustache materializes, and I drag it onto my character.  It adheres itself to his face.  Instant disguise!
  7. Pediatrician – A long haired woman with glasses enters stage right.  I’ve seen her before.  This is the same sprite that’s used for “doctor”.  But that’s not too bad.  How could you really distinguish a pediatrician from a doctor anyways?  On a hunch, I try “engineer”.  Out pops an architect clone.  Engineers everywhere boycott the game.
  8. Moat – I’m running out of room in this level.  You can only have so many items at once.  I get rid of the rain cloud and the gauge.  The engineer runs over and eats the grain off the ground.  Have we no class?  I try “moat”.  It’s basically an island, with water on either side.  It’s pretty small, but it is definitely a moat.  I drown the architect in it.  “Island”, on the other hand, gets me a little mound of sand with a palm tree attached.
  9. Sled – I’ve seen this one before, when a friend asked me to try “bobsled”.  So, bobsled and sled are the same thing.  Right.  Tell that to the cast of Cool Runnings.
  10. Sousaphone – I don’t have much faith in this one.  I type in “sousaphone” and out pops a little tuba.  Is that what a sousaphone is?  I check wikipedia.  Not exactly, but pretty close.  I equip it to the engineer.  He looks confused.  I try “musician”, and a little man in a tuxedo and white bow tie pops up.  Interesting choice of stereotype.  He looks more like a maître d, but I give him the sousaphone.  Nothing happens.  I was really hoping that he’d play it.  I get stuck in the moat, so I try “ufo” to get myself out.  I hop into the flying saucer a zoom off into the sunset.

The breadth of this game is impressive.  The gameplay itself can be a bit confusing at times, but it’s definitely worth picking up if only to get “God” and “Amen Ra” to duke it out in a cage.  Want to try a word out, but don’t have the game?  Leave a comment, and I’ll let you know the results.

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