Review Price £44.99
Unfortunately, Scribblenauts Unlimited has a major problem. It gives you the tools to unleash your imagination, and a massive range of interesting situations in which to do so. What it doesn’t do is encourage you or do anything to reward you when you go off the beaten track.
Most of the puzzles are painfully simple, and in 90% of cases you might as well just pick the obvious solution. It’s more entertaining if you don’t, but then some of the more ornate solutions are difficult – or even impossible – to pull off. For example, if you need to add a loud noise to a makeshift fire engine, then you already know that a siren is the sensible choice. Mount an opera singer in an armchair to the bonnet, and the game won’t award you the star.
As the game goes on, this has an unfortunate effect. Instead of trying to think up fun or creative solutions, you just settle for the obvious choice and move on. We loved the first hour of Scribblenauts Unlimited, but by hour three we were feeling pretty bored. This is a shame, because when you snap out of it and start experimenting, there’s still wonder to be found.
Summoning big monsters and watching them harass poor citizens or battle it is frequently good for a chuckle, and the game is packed with silly Internet memes, cultural references and general nonsense. All that Scribblenauts Unlimited needs is a better way of making them part of the actual game, and not just a cool distraction.
Luckily, Scribblenauts Unlimited has another saving grace. It’s a fun game to share with other people, whatever their age. Playing while others shout out words to try makes it a funnier and more engaging time. However, it’s an absolute winner if played with kids. They’ll love seeing their silliest ideas bought to life, and they can’t get enough of summoning cute kittens, giant animals and mythical creatures – even if it’s best to leave bazookas and Cthulu out of the mix. In a way it works because the less you’re fussed about completing the actual game, the more enjoyable playing Scribblenauts Unlimited becomes. It’s a better toybox than it is a quest.
Both the 3DS and Wii U versions are very similar. The Wii U version brings HD graphics and the ability to create and share your own objects through a connected Punctuation Plaza, while the 3DS version has some swapping features over Streetpass. The Wii U version also allows you to summon Mario, Luigi, Link and other Nintendo favourites, along with a handful of accessories that behave exactly as you’d hope they would. The 3DS version doesn’t have this, and adds one extra disappointment: after kicking off with a 3D intro that’s one of the nicest uses of 3D we’ve seen on the DS, the rest of the game is played on the 2D bottom screen. When the flat cartoon graphics look so good in three dimensions, this seems like a waste.
Scribblenauts Unlimited had the potential to be the ultimate Scribblenauts, and putting the focus on solving puzzles was the right way to go. Unfortunately the puzzles aren’t really clever or intricate enough, while the game does nothing to reward you when it comes to thinking out of the box. It’s a fun toybox title, especially when shared with other people – and particularly kids – but you just wish that the actual game was more compelling.
Trusted Reviews is part of the Time Inc. (UK) Ltd Technology Network