After playing this game, I decided something incredibly profound. When I grow up, I want to become a Scribblenaut. As a lover of both words and magic, this game immediately sucked me into its linguistic universe and got my imagination whirling. 5th Cell knew what they were doing when they began tapping into the fantastical worlds of language with their original Scribblenauts in 2009, and they have only continued to expand on the imaginative beauty of their wordy wonderworld ever since.
What to do when given a magical notebook that allows you to play God and create anything your mind can possibly imagine? Obviously, when a game is forged through this premise, playful, joyful chaos is the only inevitable outcome. Conjure up a clone machine, stage a full out war between Medusa, Satan, and an Abominable Snowman, cut down an entire school of students with a giant purple chainsaw, you name it. For a game geared towards children with its adorable visuals, yet filled with the free-roaming destructive possibilities of Grand Theft Auto, schizophrenic magic megalomania is the only possible result. And it couldn’t be more fun.
Of course, there is a storyline involved. Solving quirky puzzles and fulfilling requests with the help of your notebook, the main questline keeps you shooting your compass north as you give in to all of your strange, creative fantasies along the way. Ultimately, the real enjoyment of Scribblenauts comes through this whacky self-creatable madness. The amount of fun you have with this game is directly proportional to how creative, weird, and insane you choose to be while playing.
As for the storyline, you play as Maxwell, who must traverse through various worlds conducting good deeds for others in exchange for Starite, a magical shiny trinket capable of reversing a spell his sister Lily has unfortunately fallen victim to. All of the puzzles are fairly easy to solve, and most of them can be completed by using a lot of the same objects repeatedly throughout the storyline if that’s how you choose to play. But obviously, that’s boring, and doesn’t use Scribblenauts to its full potential.
5th Cell really went above and beyond looking through dictionaries and encyclopedias to make sure every possible noun and adjective is creatable with your nifty notebook. It really does feel like magic. Thus, it is almost an insult to the developers if you complete a task to retrieve a cat out of a tree by building a basic ladder, when you can just as well summon a massive tractor beam or suck her out with a vacuum. The tasks aren’t so cut and dry either, and can be solved in quirky ways you wouldn’t think the developers would account for. When an old countryman can’t ride his carriage anymore because his horse has fallen ill, do you revive his horse with medicine? Bring a doctor to the scene? Or take the zanier route, ditch the horse, and birth up a dragon for him to ride into town? With a billion ways to success, the choice is yours.
“I wonder what this magic little notebook will create if I write the word, Universe?” I can’t tell you how many times this type of question would come to me while playing. A time machine? A skyscraper? A wooly mammoth? A rainbow mountain? A black hole? Nothing is out of reach with this game. Except only a few things. Like if you wanted to build a McDonalds, or slip Barrack Obama into a boxing match with Mike Tyson. Proper nouns, copyrighted terms, and objects containing vulgarity are the only things off limits here with this magic notebook. So maybe the title should be like, Scribblenauts Almost Unlimited. We are not full Gods yet.
Visually, the game is stunning. With such vibrantly colorful worlds and lovely character animations, it’s easy to lock yourself indoors, forget life outside exists, and soak up your virtual Vitamin D for the day with no shame. Throughout your time playing through the storyline, you’ll journey through loads of wondrous little worlds filled with all kinds of lively creatures. Dinosaur parks, undead graveyards, alien spaceships, ancient Egyptian ruins, and underwater abysses, to list a few. And if you get bored playing as Maxwell, he luckily comes from a family of forty-two Scribblenaut children, who all can be unlocked throughout the storyline as playable characters.
Occasionally the game gets laggy, which is annoying. I always had my character boosted with the adjective “Speedy” to move quicker, but even still the game would get backed up at random times. Another problem I came across was that the game automatically shuts off if you leave the screen untouched for 15 seconds or so. That means you can’t have a conversation with a friend or your mother without tapping the screen like a feverish idiot to make sure your progress doesn’t get deleted unexpectedly. This happened to me multiple times.
Overall, the game is pure creative fun. While playing I feel like a mystical techno-word magician, bringing to life my entire maniacal imagination through my little Android phone. 5th Cell struck gold with this idea in 2009, and they’ve only continued to grow the franchise with the addition of Scribblenauts Unlimited. I for one, certainly want to become a Scribblenaut.
A creative God-game of Grand Theft Auto antics and imaginative puzzle solving. Feels like real magic.