When we reviewed 5th Cell’s Scribblenauts last year we argued that it could well be one of the most ambitious games on this type of platform of all time, and with the release of the follow-up “Super Scribblenauts” you’d be hard pushed to think of many ways in which it actually needs expanding.
Those not familiar with the concept of this puzzle/platformer should check out our review of the original for a refresher, since the basic strategy is the same. You control Maxwell, an avatar that’s used to navigate around maps in order to achieve an objective; usually retrieving a Starite from one area while creating objects and people to help along the way.
The original game had over 20,000 recognisable words, and while the follow-up does add a few hundred, the major addition is the use of “thousands” of new adjectives. This would, for example, allow creation of a “blue banana”, “evil hero”, “invincible man” or “robotic shark” and certainly goes some way to expanding the already extensive array of creatable objects and characters.
This is the first of a fair few changes in this version, perhaps the most important of which is that Maxwell can now be controlled with the keypad (though a stylus option is still available), which solves one of the big problems we had with the first game. You can also purchase hints with the currency earned from completing levels; a big bonus on some of the more confusing or convoluted stages. And the level structure itself has changed, no longer offering a clean split between action and puzzle-solving and instead focusing far more heavily on the latter.
Unfortunately these changes aren’t all for the good. While the hints and keypad control are welcome options to have, the game is far shorter than the original with around half as many stages, and the lack of action-based levels does make things seem rather linear and lacking in originality.
Having said that, you can still expect around 12 hours of gameplay from an initial run-through, during which time the vast majority of puzzles can be solved using a fairly obvious set of key objects or people. As before, expect to get totally stumped a few times, but this will usually be down to rather tenuous or overly specific solutions than anything obvious, which does mean things can get quite frustrating.
We’re not overly convinced about the headline “adjectives” addition either, and while specific adjective-based levels introduce you to the concept and force you to use them, these are often some of the most frustrating levels and don’t really add to the enjoyment of the original concept. A few too many levels omit any form of solid logic or reasoning and simply resort to “what am I thinking” or restrictions in the word combinations you can use, and while this did exist in the first game, the introduction of adjectives seems to have only exacerbated it.
While completing Super Scribblenauts should be a fairly easy task, particularly for those who played the first game, the real challenge comes from playing through the levels again on advanced difficulty, which requires each to be solved three times without replicating any of the words used previously. This can be a serious challenge and significantly adds to longevity, provided you’re hooked enough to stick with it, but we can’t help but feel the whole experience is a bit of a missed opportunity.
Company: 5th Cell