For the first time, Scribblenauts moves from handheld devices to both console and computer platforms with Scribblenauts Unlimited. Once again the game relies on charming 2D artwork and a rather nifty piece of programming to power its content: the ability for players to conjure objects, people, and creatures into scenes simply by typing in a noun (by itself or paired with an adjective for added flavor). The basic idea is to guide a perpetually smiling tyke named Maxwell, known for wearing a rooster cap, through various predicaments by using your creativity. To retrieve a cat in a tree, for instance, you can simply type the word "ladder," and it will materialize within the game, allowing you to drag the object into the scene and use it to reach the cat. Solving puzzles this way, however, will make the game seem trite. It's when you think outside of the box that you begin to appreciate the ingenuity and creativity of the game's mechanics.
The world in Scribblenauts Unlimited is much more cohesive than in prior games, as Maxwell will be able to freely pick and choose from themed environments like a high school, firehouse, and restaurant to explore. Each locale now features a half-dozen or so problems to solve using the power of Maxwell's notebook and your vocabulary. It's hard not to smile at some of the situations. A vampire looking for a blood substitute for his dinner will appreciate "tomato juice," but give a cannibal a piece of "meat" and he won't dig in. Type in "heart," however, and he'll chow down. The developers did a great job at cooking up different scenarios, and unlike earlier games in the series, most puzzles aren't over once you've addressed the immediate need. Give a man a radio or something else to entertain him during his date, and his significant other will burst into tears and run away from the table. Replace the radio with candy, flowers, a present, or an incontinent poodle, and everything will be dandy. Well, maybe not so much with the poodle....
As diverse as the scenarios are, players should expect to find one or two head-scratchers in each scene. A minotaur battling a monster wants another "friend" to join his version of fight club, but type in "dragon," "hydra," or "centaur" and you won't be able to fulfill his desire. An "ogre," however, is just the trick, perhaps because it is more humanoid in nature. The game encourages you to explore different possibilities, as there is no penalty for mistakes. In the event you actually kill, squash or destroy a potential quest giver (as with the earlier games, star fragments or starites are earned for completing tasks), you can reset the scene while saving your progress so you don't have to repeat any earlier puzzles. Chances are, though, you'll want to see just how many different ways you can think of to accomplish a goal, and more importantly, if the game "allows" you to do it. You'll often be surprised at the results.
As with previous games, Scribblenauts Unlimited is rather simplistic in terms of challenge -- each area will take you minutes to complete -- but it's not a game that's supposed to bewilder and befuddle. Rather, it's an opportunity to create something out of nothing, sit back, and watch what unfolds. The colorful art style, humorous "problems," and freedom to conjure up silly stuff make it worth playing for those looking for something a bit different in their puzzlers. The computer version also allows users to edit and share items, which means Thor, Batman, Gandalf, Mario, and other trademark-infringing proper nouns can be added to the game. Scribblenauts Unlimited's appeal may at first seem aimed toward children, but older players looking to indulge their inner need for expression will find its whimsical approach to be just "write."
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