Reviews

Lumbarjack – Scribblenauts Unlimited

Scribblenauts was Nintendo’s loyal and loving significant other for the longest time. Confined to handheld hardware you could see it glancing longingly out the wifi ports; what might it find out there? What else could it do with a bigger screen and more powerful hardware? Well, now we can all find out after the release of Scribblenauts Unlimited on PC… Oh, and some Nintendo hardware too.
Don’t want to bite the hand that feeds, right?

If you’ve been living under a rock then, a) HOLY SHIT, A BUG THAT CAN READ INTERNET! and b) you might not know what Scribblenauts is. Scribblenauts is what happens when you take a Saturday morning cartoon and an edutainment game and mash them together into something that is charming, hilarious, and insanely fun, that also gives you enough freedom to be a little bit creative.

You play as Max, a kid with a magical notebook that will make anything he writes down appear in the world. As Max is still an innocent, he doesn’t simply fill the notebook with endless screeds of hookers, drugs, donuts, and instead uses the book’s magical properties to help his sister out of a jam… that she got in because he was acting like a dick.
See what I mean about cartoon-meets-edutainment? It seems to be moralising at you, and the fact that you have to think of words to solve puzzles could make it lame and educational, but despite all that the game is fun.

Scribblenauts Unlimited has that indefinable just-one-more-puzzle quality about it that might lead to some late nights that you surely won’t regret; you weren’t up all night shooting people in the face, or trying to woo that sexy elf from your raiding party – you were helping your sister… And riding around on a jet-propelled Cthulhu. Why? Because walking is for chumps.

The puzzles are about as varied as you can imagine, with everything from helping a penguin steal a diamond to cleaning up radioactive waste in the ocean. There are animals, monsters, ghosts, dinosaurs, Lovecraftian horrors*, and – always – people in need of assistance. The puzzle solutions range from frustratingly specific, to delightfully broad, but it’s sadly lacking the delight of failure you get from Botanicula. Failure generally means something nasty will start trying to kill anything it comes into contact with, or a fire will start and unceasingly spread no matter how many firemen you conjure from your notebook.
But, that’s my only complaint about Scribblenauts Unlimited – and that said, the lack of entertaining ways to fail only seems like a downfall because of the sheer number of interactions the developers got into other areas of the game. If you take the time to ponder some less-obvious solutions you’re bound to be delighted by the items, happenings and cultural references the game throws at you.

If you’ve been looking for a game that is great fun without relying on violence or needing a competitive nature, Scribblenauts Unlimited is just what the Giant Holy Fat Stinky Jet-Propelled Doctor ordered.

*Lovecraftian and Mythological creatures are fair game but any other characters or creatures you might want to name are likely to be off-limits thanks to copyright. Steam Workshop support though, can give players a way around this for the first time in Scribblenauts’ history, though the official DC Universe game is due for release shortly too.

Recommendations:

  • Child’s Play – If you have kids or nieces and nephews Scribblenauts Unlimited is a great way to keep them entertained that won’t bore you to tears or turn your brain into un-stimulated mush.
  • If You Liked it You Should Have Put a Jetpack on it – I wasn’t joking when I mentioned the jet-propelled Cthulhu. The range of possible vehicles and creatures to ride is huge, but a lot of them are slow or small. Be sure to use adjectives such as GIANT and JET-PROPELLED to make sure you’re travelling in style.
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