Hands On with ‘Scribblenauts’ for Nintendo DS

scribblenautslogoAt Comic-Con, we at The Flickcast got to take a look at more than just comic books. We also got to check out some of the big video game releases coming out in the coming months. On the top of that list was Scribblenauts.

For those who haven’t heard of Scribblenauts, it is a puzzle game for the Nintendo DS in which players are given various scenarios that they must solve to get starites. Instead of platforming and jumping around levels, the player is given tools they can use to complete their task. One of the first examples has the main character Maxwell, standing in front of a tree with the starite sitting on top. Now you ask, “What tools are available?”

Well with Scribblenauts, you are not given a limited set of basic tools to work with. The unique aspect of Scribblenauts is how it allows the player to type in any object they want (excluding proper nouns, like someone’s Maxwell or a trademarked property like Micky Mouse) and put it to use in the game.

action9-7Back to our starlit atop the tree scenario, a quick first response might be “ax”. By typing in “ax”, an ax will appear on screen for Maxwell to pick up. Once in his hand, he can chop down the tree and retrieve the starite. Now, as basic as that problem was, the game rewards creativity and awards bonus points to players going back and completing a level again by using different items or achieving certain goals, such as beating a level without using any weapons. So, replaying the level, a bunch of other solutions become apparent. “Ladder” allows Maxwell to prop a ladder against the tree, climb it and retrieve the starite.

“Beaver” creates the tiny woodland tree demolishing machine who interacts realistically with the world around him and starts chomping down on the closest tree. Another cool choice was “Fishing Pole” which Maxwell used to snag the starite and reel it in. For those with a twisted mind like mine, “Grenade” has Maxwell pick up the small explosive and chuck it over to the base of the tree while “Jetpack” creates a Rocketeer style jetpack that Maxwell straps on before flying up to the top of the tree. And this is only the most basic of scenarios in the game.

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In designing the game, the developer 5th Cell went by the motto of “write anything to solve everything”. Even in the opening menu screen, players have an open sandbox mode where they can just create any item they want to see how different items will interact with each other. Some of the items we got to see put in to action on the opening screen were a “Unicycle” which Maxwell road around the screen before a “Dragon” came on screen and started causing havoc. To help Maxwell protect himself, we gave him a “machete”. Scribblenauts proudly boasts “tens of thousands of objects” which should allow for near limitless possibilities in solving the various puzzles the game can throw at you.

Objects interact as realistically as they would in the real world. Some objects will attract or repel each other like “Catnip” being used to lure a cat down from a tree. In addition to the 10 worlds of Puzzle mode each containing 11 puzzles focused on retrieving the starites per world, the game also contains Challenge mode which are non-starite specific puzzles based off of clues in the level and Level Editor to allow for players to come up with their own scenarios. Throughout the progress of the game, Maxell earns Ollars (their version of dollars) which can be used to buy additional worlds for the level editor or buy additional costumes for Maxwell.

One rumor that has been going around is that 5th Cell had actually hired three interns to sit in a room for six months just to come up with words. Our PR rep at San Diego Comic-Con couldn’t confirm or deny this but with the amount of objects we were able to come up with that all worked in the game in our time playing with it, it seems very believable. Scribblenauts is currently scheduled for release exclusive to the Nintendo DS on September 15th. The Flickcast looks forward to giving a full review of the game as soon as it comes out. Meanwhile, take a look below at some footage from the game we were able to get a hold of in San Diego.

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