Scribblenauts Unlimited (Wii U, 3DS)

The critically acclaimed and highly creative action puzzle game series Scribblenauts is now on the Wii U and 3DS with a dictionary’s worth of enhancements and improvements. You still play as Maxwell and use your magic notebook to write anything to make it appear in the game to help you collect Starites. But now they actually give you a reason for doing so. You see, Maxwell’s parents are adventurers and have discovered many amazing artifacts. That’s how Maxwell got his magic notebook. One day, a hungry old man begged Maxwell for food, but Maxwell played a dirty trick on him and wrote ‘rotten apple’ in his notebook to give to the old man. But the old man was actually a wizard and cast a spell on Maxwell’s sister Lily, gradually turning her into stone. The only way to save her sister is to collect Starites, and Starites only appear when you do good deeds for someone. So Maxwell sets out to use his magic notebook to do good deeds for everyone to save his ailing sister! (Wii U version reviewed here)

Gameplay is similar to other Scribblenauts titles. Tap the notebook icon to bring up a keyboard on the Wii U screen, then type any word you want, and it’ll appear on screen. Type in robot, T-Rex, or banana peel and it’ll appear for you to use. You just can’t type in anything vulgar, copyrighted, or proper names (although the Wii U version lets you type in a selection of Mario and Zelda characters). Objects typed in will react to each other accordingly, too. Like a cat will chase a mouse, for instance. You can also add adjectives to words to change how they act or look, such as a nice monster or zombie lawyer.

Your job is to find people who need help, and then type in words that will solve their problems. The level layout of Unlimited is different than other Scribblenauts games, and gives it a more adventure feel. You walk around 2-D areas and unlock more by collecting Starites. You can do that in two different ways. Some people, animals, or objects you can tap on have a simple request and only require one step, but they’ll only give you a Starite shard. Get enough of those to collect a full Starite. Other people have bigger problems with multiple steps, and will give you a full Starite if you complete their objectives. These play more like classic Scribblenauts puzzle levels.

The major new addition to Unlimited is the ability to create your own items and name them, and then use them whenever you want. Make a triceratops with a hot dog for a body, and allow it to be able to shoot out hot dogs. Then you can name it Hotdogatops. You can even create your own avatar character. Then you can upload them online for others to see and download, and you can even design your own shop to display your creations and view others as well. And everything is in sharp, crisp HD with the Wii U.

While Scribblenauts Unlimited is super awesome and one of the best Wii U launch titles, it does have its share of problems and shortcomings. From what I can tell, you can only have one save file, which makes it hard to share with others in the family. Maybe you can have multiple Wii U accounts in order to get around that? Also, the new level structure can be confusing at first. I also wish there was a thorough in-game tutorial about how to create your own custom objects and avatars, and how to upload them online, because it’s not very intuitive at first (I’m still learning how to do things, myself). Some of the goals and objectives can be a little confusing, but at least you can use “Starite Vision” to see who can give you one. And aside from seeing the game on the big screen, there isn’t really any advantage to using the Wii U controller. You can just play the whole game on the Wii U controller, really. But despite these problems, Scribblenauts Unlimited is one of the best Wii U launch titles and a must have for any owner of Nintendo’s newest consoles.

Kid Factor

Scribblenauts Unlimited is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Cartoon Violence and Comic Mischief. The violence is very cartoony, as it only looks as if doodles are fighting, and defeated beings just disappear in a puff of smoke. So the game is only as twisted as you make it. Some of the puzzles are pretty out there, though. Like one where you work at a restaurant and have to type in something a cannibal would want to eat! Strong reading and spelling skills are a must, too.

Scribblenauts could be considered educational as well, as the puzzles can help improve vocabulary, spelling, adjective usage, classification, and other wordy lessons. Assigning behaviors to created objects could also teach kids a thing or two about video game development. I could even see teachers bringing Scribblenauts to school to use as a teaching tool. If you have grade school kids or older in your family, I highly recommend getting Unlimited or any of the other Scribblenauts titles.

More Scribblenauts fun!

Here are the other Scribblenauts games I’ve reviewed. I’ve actually reviewed every single game in the series!

Scribblenauts (DS)

Super Scribblenauts (DS)

Scribblenauts Remix (iPad)

And here’s my Scribblenauts-related merchandise. I don’t know where you can get the Maxwell action figure, but I think you can order one online. The hat is bonus item you could get by reserving certain Scribblenauts games.

In the comments section, if you have any tips on how to create and upload creations in Scribblenauts Unlimited, please let me know, as I’m still trying to figure things out in that regard myself. Thanks for reading! –Cary

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