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.

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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

Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ thompo555

bout how he is a fool and thinks i am a ps3 fanboy.
Posted 18:02 on 07 October 2009
thompo555's Avatar

thompo555@ Karlius

Yehh! So i bet it was steg :D and what are you arguing bout anyway?
Posted 17:59 on 07 October 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ Karlius

i didnt thumb you down because i haven't read it yet.


ok so i have now thumbed you down seeing you wrote, "Don't listen to Ninjutsu Sony can do no wrong in his eyes" which is completely irrational to think that i think sony can do no harm, when on my last replaced console i demanded a free game because i was sick of the service that they were providing me and that i hate the slow downloads and i have repeatedly told my friends that i prefer the 360 for the online community and fast downloads but prefer PS3 for gaming and its pad.
Posted 17:57 on 07 October 2009
Karlius's Avatar


I suggest the truth hurts
Posted 17:38 on 07 October 2009
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ thompo555

I gave him a thumbs up, as he was right and was only simply giving his view.
He never intends to offend the Sony fans, he just wants to give his view on some of it's negatives.
I have also seen him do posts where he praises the PS3.

BTW Karl I finally played Little Big Planet yesterday. It's a classic mate and another good reason to get a PS3.
Posted 17:36 on 07 October 2009
thompo555's Avatar

thompo555@ Karlius

two thumbs down actualy! (wasnt me)
Posted 17:24 on 07 October 2009
rbevanx's Avatar


and Steg gave himself a TU with one of his 50 accounts.
Posted 16:41 on 07 October 2009
Karlius's Avatar


Oh No I got a thumbs down for my bitch oh Tom common play nice.
Posted 16:39 on 07 October 2009
Stegosaurus-Guy-II's Avatar


The DS and PSP have the best exclusives this gen.

Show Spoiler You know I'm right.
Posted 16:37 on 07 October 2009
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ Karlius

Hahaha that was awesome and Skinner wearing a thong by the pool.
Posted 16:36 on 07 October 2009
Karlius's Avatar


I remember your PSP mate you took it to magaluf with such high hopes lol. Then Jimbo cracked out his DS and blew it away lol. It didn't last the check in and flight if I remember.

Whats more impressive was that we didn't get arrested for taking the piss of the immigration staff by turning up dressed as Pat Sharp Wannabees. Refusing to remove my wig and sunglasses. :)
Posted 16:28 on 07 October 2009
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ Karlius

Haha prepare for the backlash Karl, but you are right mate. I bought about 12 games on my PSP and they were rubbish (except Wipeout) plus the battery didn't last long so I bought a spare one.
Posted 16:26 on 07 October 2009
Karlius's Avatar


Aren't PSP games just half baked PS2 games in disguise? Thats the impression I always got from the console.

"This games not quite good enough to meet the standards required of the PS2 ah well chuck it on PSP."


"If I reduce the resolution, polygon count and levels by half Piff Paff Poof we now have a PSP version."

I believe the DS brings something different to pocket gaming that immerses you in the gameplay and technology. In my eyes it's far more successful than even the Wii for bringing gaming to the masses.
Posted 16:24 on 07 October 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ pblive

not trying to say there arent any good games, rather games that i find interesting, i find games on the psp more interesting than on the ds.
Posted 15:55 on 07 October 2009
Karlius's Avatar


Just a pointer Bev if you ever do have a million quid with 5 seconds to spend it offer it to me to grope you i'll give you half back :)

Don't listen to Ninjutsu Sony can do no wrong in his eyes when we all know the PSP is a useless overhyped brick that consumes battery life the same way an obesse American consumes Big Mac's. Lol that'll rile him.

DS and it's many variations Rules handheld gaming. Neon are these cheap games you talk of Free via dodgy means perhaps? Lol a Freind has mostly all DS games ever produced and if you can't find a couple of hundred games you'd love to play out of them then you must be a drone!
Posted 15:49 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: 1,616 251
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