Hands On With Scribblenauts Unlimited For Wii U

At FanExpo Toronto, I got the chance to put my hands on the Wii U.  On the final day of the convention, my bag heavy with swag and my feet sore from walking, I finally visited the DC booth to sample their wares.  The first game I got the opportunity to play was Scribblenauts Unlimited.  I remember when the first Scribblenauts came out for the DS.  I spent hours fiddling with combinations of items, solving puzzles, and just generally having a blast. Needless to say, my expectations were high.

Scribblenauts Unlimited remains faithful to its predecessors.  You still retain control of Maxwell, the clever little boy with a magical notebook that summons whatever his imagination can conceive.    Super Scribblenauts, the second game in the series, introduced the ability to add adjectives to your summons.  Once you were limited to just creating, say, a T-Rex, a zombie or Cthulhu.  With the Scribblenauts sequels, you can create a giant tornado, an exploding rocket launcher, or a giant hadron collider.  Scribblenauts Unlimited keeps all of these amazing features that make the series so iconic and well-loved.

The question becomes this: what does Scribblenauts Unlimited bring to the table?  What new features make it worth the purchase?  Firstly, the game does away with the small stages with a single puzzle to solve . While you’re still chasing Starites, there is now an open overworld for the player to explore and conquer.  I spent the demo jumping around platforms and helping NPCs out with their problems.  While most of the puzzles I was faced with were unchallenging  and simple, no doubt the finished game will provide the mind bending trickery the Scribblenauts franchise is famous for. After all, demos are usually meant to display the game’s concept, and it would be tricky to do so with ridiculously difficult tasks to complete.   The final game will tell the story of Maxwell’s magical notebook, making this the first game with a narrative – something that is wholly unnecessary, but may become a pleasant surprise.

This is the first Scribblenauts game on a console, and 5th Cell has taken full advantage of the increased horsepower the Wii U grants.  There are over 900 unique items in the game, and players can now customize their creations to unprecedented levels – colour, size, gender, nature, aggression levels… all of these features are open to the player’s will.  Players can also save their abominations online for their friends to access in their own games.  Scribblenauts Unlimited is also treated to an HD makeover on the Wii U that makes it by far the most graphically impressive game in the franchise.

The Wii U’s controller means that the game plays completely differently than the original DS versions.  Instead of typing in the item you wish to summon, the player navigates through menus.  This allows the player to add the adjectives they desire to the noun they wish to bring to life.  Sometimes summoning an item takes longer than usual due to the menu system – however, unlike in the first Scribblenauts game, I never encountered time-sensitive puzzles.  This meant I had as much room and time to flex my imagination as I desired.

Scribblenauts Unlimited takes a successful formula and improves on it, and the Wii U means that this familiar experience now has new twists and turns.  I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the final game in action – not just so that I can discover the mystery of Maxwell’s notebook and how it came to being, but also so that I can witness the horrifying, hilarious, and sometimes heinous creations that 5th Cell have put in Scribblenauts Unlimited’s dictionary.

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