Published on February 6th, 2013 | by Dembonez19


Review: Scribblenauts Unlimited

Review: Scribblenauts Unlimited Dembonez19

Developer: 5th Cell Media
Publishers: WB Games, Nintendo (3DS/Wii U, Europe only)
System: Wii U, 3DS, PC
Release Date: November 13, 2012 (Wii U/3DS), November 19, 2012 (PC)



User Rating: 0 (0 votes)

Good deeds. A lot of times, we find more motivation inside us to do good things for others when there are rewards behind them, even more so if a family member’s life is at stake.

We are introduced to Maxwell’s family in this game, the third installment to the Scribblenauts series, and while the family is humongous, most of the focus is on Maxwell and his twin sister Lily. The game’s story actually isn’t as dark as it sounds, and there isn’t a lot of emphasis on the storyline through the game until you have reached checkpoints marked by the number of Starites you have collected along the way. The Starites, just like before, unlock new levels for you to explore. As long as they are unlocked, these levels can be explored in any order.

There is no level unlocked towards the end that is any easier or more difficult than a level unlocked in the beginning. That said, there are plenty of challenging puzzles that you must face along the way. These puzzles are all spread out throughout the world though, so there is a nice blend of difficulty levels within each area.

The process of collecting Starites is different in Scribblenauts Unlimited. There are only a few opportunities per level where Starites can be obtained in their whole form. The other completed good deeds will earn Maxwell a Starite Shard which over time will create a full Starite to be returned to Lily to unlock new locations. These Starite Shards are quicker to obtain while the full Starites send Maxwell into a completely separate story that requires a chain of events to take place.

The chain of events that occur during Starite opportunities are really easy to follow for the most part. There are a few puzzles that may cause trouble, but the step-by-step instructions along with the appearance of hints help when you’re completely stumped trying to complete one of the steps. Hints are not provided during Starite Shard opportunities though.

While Starite opportunities take more time, they are worth your while if you wish to finish the game faster. It is not necessary to play through all of the levels. Once you reach a certain amount of complete Starites, the game will end and the credits will roll.

Starite and Shard opportunities are not the only ways to achieve the coveted gold. There are hidden achievements that can earn you Shards as well. There is a list that can be accessed using the Game Pad to locate what it is that needs to be done in order to obtain those Shards. The thing is, those achievements allow for less creativity and should probably be left as surprises along the way since they are extremely straightforward. These take the place of the merit system which has not returned.

A couple of other modes from the previous games have not made official returns as well. One of which is the level creator. Like the merit system, this too has been replaced with a much more effective and useful Punctuation Plaza. Here, all owners of Scribblenauts Unlimited can share their created objects to other players to use in their games. These objects have customizable attributes that can be used to solve puzzles. With Punctuation Plaza, anything can be created, shared, and used. Better yet, if a puzzle seems nearly impossible to solve, you can create your own object in the object editor and solve it your way!

Along with customizing objects, players can now customize their avatars. Before, there were presets that players could choose from. Now, players can piece together and color their own avatars using parts from existing objects and people. The possibilities are endless. As a bonus, Maxwell can also play as one of his MANY siblings once they are each unlocked.

The other “mode” that has technically been eliminated is the Title Screen “free mode”. That said, pretty much any level can be turned into a place to play around with different objects to see how they work or to set up battle scenes with different creatures. Granted, some of the NPCs within the level could be scared off or killed in the process, but that is what the Reset button is for. All of this can be fixed without any penalization towards you. The levels never end abruptly unless you fail a Starite opportunity or Maxwell dies. Even still, your progress up to that point is saved.

Moving from the small screen of the DS to a larger television screen is a great leap. Everything is so much crisper in Scribblenauts Unlimited for the Wii U. The objects have more life to them, are more detailed, and there is a visible male and female version of nearly every human character in the game. The list of examples have only increased, and with a game already containing every noun that isn’t proper or vulgar in the dictionary, Scribblenauts Unlimited holds a lot of information now. It is almost overwhelming.

The controls improved from Scribblenauts to Super Scribblenauts when Maxwell was allowed to move with the D-pad. Now it has improved even further with the use of the Game Pad. The bigger screen and device makes moving around more comfortable, and the fact that everything that appears on the television also appears on the Game Pad is convenient as well. Helpful tools like the trashcan to throw away unused objects, the backpack to store objects for later, and Starite vision which is used to locate who needs assistance in each world are all located on the Game Pad.

There are only a few flaws with this game. One is that some of the puzzles are just too darn picky. Every once in awhile, the hints do not specify well enough what you are supposed to do. This is very rare, however, and it is easy to get by on nearly all of the puzzles. The thing is, some objects that should work don’t in a lot of instances. Luckily, the par system has not made a return either, so this isn’t a huge issue.

Another flaw is with the spell checker. For an example, if I were to type in “Whoopie Cushion”, the spell checker should have “Whoopee Cushion” as one of its corrections. It does not. There are a lot of words that could be called other things like “Auto Rifle” and “Fingernail File” that don’t appear on the list and can’t be corrected properly. So far this is only a problem with objects that contain two words, but the game could use a better identifying system to pick these terms apart and figure out what they are.

The final flaw comes with the introduction of Nintendo characters. Yes, characters from the Mario and Zelda universes have made an appearance in Scribblenauts Unlimited, but they have such an insignificant presence. They cannot be used, so there really is no point in them being added to the game unless you wish to play around with them freely within a level. They could have used more involvement since the team took the time to include them.

The bottom line, however, is that Scribblenauts Unlimited is still a must-own for anyone with a Wii U, a 3DS, or a PC. It is incredibly fun and unique with an amazing soundtrack. Plus, it heavily promotes thinking outside the box to solve puzzles in ways you never would’ve imagined to begin with. It has been incredible watching this series improve after every sequel, and I really hope that it continues to grow from here. The world could use a little more Maxwell.

+ Works well on the small screen and the big screen
+ Endless/shareable customizations
+ Larger levels with no limitations
+ Easy to follow and control
– The occasional picky puzzle
– Spell check is inaccurate with nouns containing multiple words
– Nintendo characters serve no purpose beyond aesthetics

Final score: 4.75 out of 5

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About the Author

Recent college graduate with a BA in Game Art and Design and extremely avid gamer to boot.

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  • Scribblenauts seems to have made a smooth transition from the DS to the Wii U! I’m interested in this one, but I’m probably gonna wait for a price drop. Great review, James!

    • Dembonez19

      It definitely made a smooth transition. It’s great to see Maxwell and other characters much more clearly on both the tv screen and the GamePad. And the good thing is, since it did so well crossing over to a console and PC, those who’d rather stick to tradition and buy it for their handhelds can still do that too. This is one of those games that works everywhere. 🙂

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