Scribblenauts is an innovative game for the Nintendo DS, brought to us by 5th Cell and Warner Brothers. Solve challenges by imagining and writing what you want, and watch it come to life to help you make your way through the game world.
From a gamer perspective, just for my own enjoyment level, I was really engaged by Scribblenauts. The challenges are different enough that it stays fresh and interesting throughout the game. Another strong point is that, with so many ways to complete an objective for a level, you can play through more than once and not do the same thing twice.
But how appropriate is it for children?
With a rating of E for everyone 10+, there’s not much to worry about. Scribblenauts has cute, sketch-like, cartoony graphics, and no gore whatsoever. There is a little fighting, but the worst that shows with that are little poofs and then the loser falls and disappears. It’s far less graphic than a lot of cartoons that might come to mind. There are mythic creatures and some simple magics like a witch that can wave her wand and turn other characters into frogs.
Spelling and reading ability are required, as a major component of play is to be able to “type” in (with the stylus) the name of the item you want to appear in the world, to use to help solve the challenge of the level. I can see this helping early readers and spellers to strengthen those skills. I love a game that can be educational without being in your face about it.
It’s not often we find a game that appeals to the whole family. This game does. My preschoolers love to muck around on the sandbox screens, thinking up things for their older sister or me to summon for them.
From my family’s experience, I’d recommend it for strong readers ages 6-10, and everyone ages 10+.
The only real complaint I have with the game is that sometimes you’re trying to place an item, and it’s important to the completion of your puzzle that Maxwell not move until you do, but he will interpret a tap of your stylus as telling him to run there. So he does, and ruins everything, making you do it over. Argh! But this hasn’t happened so much I’ve been inclined to stop playing.
Your character, Maxwell, is a scribblenaut. Your task is to help him collect starites through the game levels. Each level has its own puzzle or challenge you must meet to release the level’s starite.
As mentioned above, you have over 20,000 items you can create to solve these challenges. They’ve tried to program in everything a person might think of trying to use, and some things that are fairly obscure (and hilarious). But wait, there’s more. The items can interact with each other causing even more fun things to happen.
Want to see what happens when you put a Greek goddess, Cthulhu, and Abraham Lincoln on the same screen? You can do that!
In puzzle or adventure modes, attain merit, style points, and ollars for solving a challenge in few moves and stylish ways. Your ollars are used to unlock subsequent worlds, and for purchasing avatars other than Maxwell’s default to use to play. Ollars are easily earned in normal play, so a shortage shouldn’t be a problem. If it is, simply replaying levels a little will fix it.
Different avatars may offer a little edge, such as a higher jump if you use the Ninja avatar.
A Few Hints:
ROFLCopter + Rope, and air vents can solve a lot of problems.
Bridge Ladder and Fixed Ladder span wider distances than the normal ladder and bridge.
The L and R buttons rotate objects.
The Scribblenauts Dictionary
A full list of words taken from the Scribblenauts dictionary. In other words, everything you can summon, in one massive list.
This fun site offers the latest news on games in the series, and that’s not all. As of this writing there are contests, printables, comics, and lots more.