Scribblenauts Review for DS

On: DSiPhone

The player uses the Nintendo DS touch-screen to help his character, Maxwell, acquire the starite in each level by solving a series of puzzles.

Review Verdict Read Review
7Out of 10
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This is Maxwell. He's a hero with suicidal tendencies.
This is Maxwell. He's a hero with suicidal tendencies.

This is Maxwell. He's a hero with suicidal tendencies.

Imagine, if you will, that you're back in college. It's the night of the leaver's dance (that's "The Prom", if you're one of our US readers), and you've just showed up to pick up your date. As her mother opens the door you spy your childhood sweetheart at the top of the stairs, resplendent in a shimmering silk gown. She looks absolutely stunning.

Then all of a sudden, something goes wrong. Your beloved trips over a draft excluder built into the top of the stairs and goes tumbling head over heels. She bounces on her face down 28 steps and then comes to an abrupt stop, a broken puppet on the hallway floor.

Amazingly, your date is prepared to carry on. She has two black eyes and has lost a few teeth, but what the hell - it's the leaver's ball. She's a plucky spirit, this girl - and that's why you love her. So you go to the dance anyway, and you have a surprisingly good time. But every so often you look at your lover's mangled features, and you wonder what might have been. If only she hadn't tripped over that draft excluder! What on Earth was that doing there, anyway? Who builds a draft excluder into the top of a staircase? What a stupid piece of design!

That, in a nutshell, is how I feel about Scribblenauts. When I first heard the concept for this game, it seemed too good to be true: an action puzzler where the player solves challenges by summoning any object they want, just by typing out its name. Then when I actually saw the game being demoed, my expectations rocketed - because against all the odds, it seemed like developer 5th Cell had actually pulled off the impossible. And now we know the truth - they have pulled it off, but they've also botched what should have been a comparatively simple job: the basic controls.

The pegasus will soon become your new best friend. He's dead useful.

The pegasus will soon become your new best friend. He's dead useful.

Scribblenauts finds you guiding a kid named Maxwell through hundreds of brief 2D scenarios. Stages are split into two categories - action and puzzle - but in both cases your ultimate aim is to collect a token called a Starite. In the former set of levels you'll usually have to fight your way past several hostile creatures, while the latter force you to get your thinking cap on: you might simply be re-stocking someone's farm, or you might be retrieving a truck from the bottom of a lake. Whatever the situation, you'll be conjuring up hundreds upon hundreds of helpful items, creatures and people. Just tap the notepad icon in the top left of the screen, type in the name of what you want, and with any luck it'll magically appear for you to use.

I really can't overstate how impressive this system is. The game doesn't have everything, obviously, but the range and number of things on offer is pretty unbelievable. From mythical creatures to military vehicles, from greasy burritos to deadly diseases, there's almost no limit to what you can bring to the party. While most objects have an immediate use, you can often give them further purpose by combining them with something else. Attach a rope to the bottom of a helicopter, and you've got a highly versatile airlift. Stick a saddle on the back of a grizzly bear, and you can ride it into battle. Certain people and creatures also have clever AI triggers - cats and dogs will automatically fight if they're near each other, for example, as will God and Satan.

Occasionally you'll find your plans are messed up by strange or unexpected behavior from NPC beings, but most of the time these surprises are fairly amusing. A far more serious flaw is to be found in the game's tragically ill-conceived control system. The stylus is used for absolutely everything, and while the drag-and-drop setup works fine for placing and arranging objects, navigating Maxwell himself is another matter entirely. The idea is that you simply tap where you want him to go, but as a result it's all too easy to send him flying across the screen while you're trying to interact with a small item.

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User Comments

robz48's Avatar


If i got this game the first thing i would do is try and spawn Gordon Brown then a dildo to shove up his ass.
Posted 20:06 on 07 October 2009
Rogue_Soul's Avatar


Speaking of moderators, isn't this supposed to be a Scribblenauts review comment thread? *squint*
Posted 19:50 on 07 October 2009
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ Stegosaurus-Guy-II

at the Moderators' discretion.
God is in the details.
Posted 19:45 on 07 October 2009
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev@ Stegosaurus-Guy-II

That is true Steg, you were usually quite polite in your annoyance. I dunno why everyone gets so pissed off at you. You're quite amusing.
Posted 19:11 on 07 October 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ Stegosaurus-Guy-II

seriously dude this is almost like harrasment on the basis of annoyance
Posted 19:09 on 07 October 2009
Stegosaurus-Guy-II's Avatar


No Abusive Posts - Be nice to each other. Anyone who is found to be abusive to another member will be banned at the Moderators' discretion.

I do believe this rule has been broken by a few people in this topic. A rule that I have never broken so I'm not being hypocritical.
Posted 19:07 on 07 October 2009
El-Dev's Avatar


I wonder what happens when you type fanboy in to Scribblenauts?
Posted 19:06 on 07 October 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ Karlius

Woah has no come back so you nit pick! Nice one idiot.
Posted 19:01 on 07 October 2009
Karlius's Avatar



PS. i was teasing Ninjutsu the lol implied that! And yes Bevan me and your mum we got it going on! :)
Posted 18:55 on 07 October 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar


He can go suck a fart. Then choke on the fumes of idiocy.
Posted 18:40 on 07 October 2009
thompo555's Avatar

thompo555@ Mr_Ninjutsu

If it isnt true he shouldnt say it or put (jk) etc
Posted 18:37 on 07 October 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ rbevanx

I dont like the guy on the fact that he thinks he is right all the time so i am taking whetever he says as something he thinks is true.
Posted 18:15 on 07 October 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ thompo555

ano, he needs to think before he speaks. Or research for that matter.
Posted 18:13 on 07 October 2009
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ Mr_Ninjutsu

I think he was just messing Ninjutsu. You should hear some of the stuff he says to me about what he wants to do with my mum.
Posted 18:13 on 07 October 2009
thompo555's Avatar

thompo555@ Mr_Ninjutsu

Ok so ps3 fanboys have Xbox's do they? Right?
Posted 18:09 on 07 October 2009

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Out of 10
  • Inspires some great ideas
  • Wonderfully original
  • Extremely fiddly controls
  • No, really - they're awful
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 09/10/2009
Platforms: DS , iPhone
Developer: 5th Cell
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Genre: Puzzle
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 2,109 511
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