Scribblenauts Remix

Published by: Gavin (R&D SpecialEffect) on 8th Feb 2012 | View all blogs by Gavin (R&D SpecialEffect)
scribbenauts.jpg

iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad - 5th Cell and Iron Galaxy Studios published by Warner Bros. Entertainment

When I first heard about Scribblenauts, in the run up to its release in 2009, I was blown away by the scope of its ambition. The concept of being able to type almost anything into a game and it being able to produce it was an impressive one. I was of course sceptical, because as I think I’ve mentioned before I’m a rather jaded old man, and also because I understood that it’s an astronomical task for someone to basically go through the dictionary, pick out every noun, craft each one and plonk them into a game. I was definitely in the mindset of “I will believe it when I see it!” although I couldn’t help but admire the developer’s aspirations.

When the game was released it was met with middling review scores. The majority of people complaining that it was too hard to control the main character ‘Maxwell’ accurately and so too easy for him to accidently fall into trouble. So I put Scribblenauts on my “If I get a chance to play it great, but if I don’t I won’t be too bothered” list.

But, when I saw Scribblenauts Remix recently on the App Store, selling for a modest price, I thought (like I’m sure a-lot of other people have) “why not? It costs less than a pint, so if it’s rubbish it doesn’t really matter”.

The first thing I did, when I started playing, was test the game’s vocabulary, and in this respect it didn’t disappoint at all. Everything I typed it produced. Impressed, I went onto the interweb and found that there are some 22,000 objects to conjure up. Even, if a-lot of them don’t have much purpose, or any effect on the environment around them at all (A black-hole will consume any object that’s close-by, but an apple core or a bay window have no real practical use that I could find) it’s an amazing feat of programming providing such a huge library of objects to instantly draw from. If you want a zombie, type it and suddenly it appears, fancy a unicorn, type it in and poof there’s a unicorn. Also, Scribblenauts Remix incorporates the ability (introduced in 2010’s Super Scribblenauts) to use adjectives so you can produce giant yellow zombies and multicoloured flying unicorns if you so wish.

The controls are quite straight forward. You use a virtual keyboard to type into the game what you want to appear, then when it does, you drag it with a finger to where you want it to be. If you want to dispose of it, you drag it to the icon that looks like a rubbish bin. Controlling Maxwell himself can be done by either, using a virtual D-pad, or by tapping and holding onto the side of the screen you want him to move to. He will automatically jump onto, and over, any objects that he encounters, and while the controls don’t afford you ultimate control over your avatar, to me they’re definitely fit for purpose.

The scope of the puzzles are a little on the disappointing side. It’s not that Scribblenauts Remix is a bad puzzle game, by any stretch of the imagination, but you are given the freedom to produce almost anything you can think of, yet most of the puzzles don’t challenge you to use these objects creatively. You aren’t tasked with getting here, or getting this done, in any-way you see fit, instead the majority of the puzzles have very defined parameters, being of the “you are in a classroom create six objects that belong in a classroom” kind.

Another issue I have is that a-lot of times you’ll find yourself waiting for the game’s hint system to throw you a bone, as to what you need to do next, as the instructions given at the start of the levels can be incredibly vague.

All of these issues would be a big deal to me in a full price retail game, but are rendered trivial, as Scribblenauts Remix has now decreased in cost to a measly 69p, and that’s a fantastic price to pay to be able to shoot a t-rex with a shrink ray, glue flowers to a pink gorilla and see a zombie fight a giant crab.

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