It’s really not very often that simply hearing the premise of a game makes you tingle with excitement. ZombiU does that a little bit, Minecraft has that draw, and another such game came along when it was shown at E3 a few years ago. That game, predictably, was Scribblenauts. The concept of creating anything was legitimately awesome (as in, full of awe– not “super cool”), and 5th Cell went ahead and topped even that by throwing adjectives into the mix with the second game in the series, Super Scribblenauts. The sheer grandioseness of the series is almost daunting at times, and if you don’t relax and let your imagination take over you may find yourself stuck for ideas, which in turn may cause your opinion of the game to suffer!
So yea. Don’t do that.
The latest entry in the series– penned Scribblenauts Unlimited or ScribU– will be launching alongside Nintendo’s next home console on November 18th, but if you’re someone who has never played the games and wants to know what they’re about, I have just the quotes from just the person for you!
“Scribblenauts is a game where you can make anything you can think of,” says 5th Cell producer Brittany Aubert, “We have tens of thousands of objects you can type and create like dragon, time machine, jetpack, construction worker, tank, or bazooka.
“We also include hundreds of adjectives, so if a tank isn’t enough for you, you can make a giant, friendly, spotted, golden, pregnant, fire-breathing tank.”
A pregnant… tank!? I had never thought of using “pregnant” as an adjective. I will be right back– I’m gonna go try this out in Scribblenauts: Remix, the iPad version of the game.
Okay, here’s a quick little slideshow of what happened:
I typed it in.
This thing popped out. “Great,” I thought, “That’s just a stupid icon! That doesn’t count as being pregna—”
And then it gave birth to another itty bitty baby tank! Right in front of me!
So Brittany’s claim about pregnant tank checks out, but you can do that on either entries in the series prior to Unlimited. This begs the question: What’s different about this one?
“[In Scribblenauts Unlimited] we added male and female versions of all of our professions, so now you can randomly get a male or female doctor, or specify which one you want.
This gave us funny objects like Baberaham Lincoln.”
Now, it’s unclear whether or not this is just a really bad pun or something you can actually type into the game. I sort of hope it’s just a really bad pun, for that would show that the 5th Cell staff has top-shelf humor.
“We added some new costumes for Maxwell, like a Bee Suit, Hot Dog Suit and Banana Suit.
We’ve added funny objects like Nyan Cat, Hipster, and wacky waving inflatable flailing arm tube man. We put our development team as spawnable objects into the game and attach their likes, dislikes, and personalities to their in-game versions.”
Again, it’s not clear whether you have to type in “wacky waving inflatable flailing arm tube man” to get one of those things or if there’s a shorthand version. Something tells me you actually have to type it in though.
Still, while male and female versions of characters, pop-culture references, and spawn-able developers are cool, the real differences between this Scribblenauts game and past ones are simple: Open world gameplay and an item editor.
Now, when I say “open world gameplay” I don’t mean Grand Theft Auto city with thousands of NPCs and tons of stuff to do– I mean a Scribblenauts city with hundreds of NPCs and tons of stuff to do. Puzzles are scattered across various landscapes organically, as though there are real (albeit perhaps a bit stiff) citizens that have real problems and need real solutions for them. And (thankfully) Maxwell has real solutions for real people.
Of course there are still “regular” puzzle levels that you enter into, receive an objective for, and have to solve as creatively as possible, but the inclusion of both this AND the open world feature arguably makes ScribU worth the price of admission already.
“If that’s still not enough,” Brittany says, “then you can take any object and modify it in any way you want with the object editor!”
The object editor is perhaps the most appealing new aspect of the game for most people, and even though it doesn’t explicitly allow you to draw objects from scratch it offers a unique, very Nintendo-like sort of freedom. Much like how making Miis has limitations that require users to think creatively and come up with cool ways to get the look they want, making objects in Scribblenauts Unlimited lets you take any already-made item, modify it, and attach it to other items. This may sound limiting, but the team over at 5th Cell has already managed to craft up the Avengers, Batman characters, some Mortal Kombat ninjas, and the Scooby Gang within these guidelines. I can only imagine what hundreds of thousands of players will think up!
Perhaps the most impressive object they edited, however, was “Clownthulhu”. Check him out in the trailer below:
If that didn’t convince you that this game is bar-none the best Scribblenauts game yet, then you’re either really really grumpy or you’re living in opposite-world. Either way, we’ll have to stick you in the object editor ourselves and make things a little more positive.
I’m thinking party hat, clown wig, comically oversized unicycle, and a pie-catapult.
Oh, and a pregnant tank. Can’t forget that.
Yes, that would be a rock and tree wedding.
Bonus Easter Egg Reveal:
“One of our programmers, Rob, and our animator, Nathan, like to play airsoft. One time they had a bit of an accident. Nathan wasn’t wearing proper safety equipment and Rob shot Nathan in the mouth, cracking one of his teeth. As a joke, if you spawn both of them in the game, they’ll recreate this scene.”
Thanks to Ramona for helping set up the mini-interview, Brittany for answering my questions, and everyone of 5th Cell for making a cool game! It comes out tomorrow, November 13th on 3DS (crept up on you, I bet!), and November 18th (launch day) on Wii U.
Any of you picking it up? Why or why not?
Also, apparently I’m supposed to have a “social media presence”, so here’s where you can find me: