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Scribblenauts

By S.A. Renegade on September 24, 2009 in Reviews

Final verdict: D
Final playtime: Fuck it.

Aright fools. I’ve been busy being a lazyass motherfucker as usual, but now I’m back and gonna set all you dipshits straight on a few things. I swear to god I can’t take a vacation for a few weeks because suddenly the entire world gets a lot stupider. Today I’m reviewing Scribblenauts and revealing it for the overhyped piece of shit that it is.

When I saw this game I couldn’t wait to play it. The concept sounded incredible. Being able to summon almost any object in the world? That goes against everything videogames have taught me. By which I mean, game worlds and mechanics are naturally very limited in what you can do. Hell, like I said last year, going from an RPG to GTA IV, it surprised me that when I bumped into a table, it actually moved!

But anyway, when I finally got Scribblenauts and started playing it, I was genuinely amazed. The first thing I did as soon as I started was summon an airplane and fly around. And it was awesome. They definitely delivered in what they promised: you can write just about anything you can think of. And the items you summon generally work and interact with each other in fun and interesting ways. For example, you summon god and an angel, and the angel follows god around. You summon a communist and money, and the communist destroys the money. You summon a vampire and a person and the vampire turns the person into a ghoul. You summon some garlic or a cross and the vampire is scared of it. You throw it at him and he dies. You summon a bear and some honey, the bear goes after it. You summon a park ranger and the bear acts friendly towards him. I could go on and on. It’s really quite a fun and amazing feature they’ve created here.

The problem is that Scribblenauts banks everything it has on its flagship feature and hopes everyone will be dazzled enough by how fascinating and innovative it is that they ignore the fact that the game is really not very good. Hwell. Everyone else may be stupid enough to fall for this trick but not me. You’re not going to get off that easy with me, 5th Cell. The only way to get a good grade from me is to make a genuinely good game, not smoke, mirrors and circus tricks.

Let’s start out with the obvious problem: the controls in Scribblenauts are absolute shit. They are infuriatingly bad. Inexcusably bad. Let me guess, you put your entire team to work on the summoning feature and the only one left to work on the controls was the dog? Well the dog gets no bagel, because his work is seriously pitiful. Did you really think it was a good idea to make the character move by touching with the stylus? And even then there’s no reason why it should work this badly.

You might want to grab a rope, but because it’s so thin you might miss and cause your character to jump into a random lava pit. And forget about doing anything precise because apparently your character is magnetically attracted to spikes and lava pits. Want to stand on the button? Not before doing a little jig first! Want to climb up that ladder you just placed? Better be real careful because what your character really wants to do is have a nervous fit and knock it down! Hell, a lot of times the difficulty in the game comes not from the ingenuity of the puzzles but from how horrible the controls are. Who knew the simple act of walking over a bridge without knocking it over into the abyss could be so maddeningly hard? REALLY, Fido? Is this really the best you could do? Screw you, Fido. Fuck you.

Then the camera proves to be almost as annoying with its insistence of wanting to snap right back to your character without your permission to do so! You might be doing something away from your character, and unless you keep moving the camera at all times it’ll just keep trying to go right back. Come the fuck on! All you had to do was make it so you have to press a button to make the camera move back. This isn’t hard! And don’t try to tell me you just didn’t notice it was annoying. What, didn’t you test the game?

Oh. Oh right. Oh fucking right. What am I even saying. Of course you did not test the game. After all, this is the only DS game I’ve seen with fucking freezing issues. Gimme a god damn break here. What do you think this is, PC? DS games are not supposed to freeze and force you to reset like this. And who can forget the classic getting-stuck-in-a-wall-for-no-reason. Yeah, everyone fucking loves that. I can’t believe I keep saying this. TEST YOUR FUCKING GAMES THOROUGHLY, ASSHOLES.

Earlier I said the items you summon generally work well, and this is true, but, as expected, there are always limitations. Some more jarring than others. For example, in one level you have to buy some things from a supermarket and then pay. Obviously you can pay with money. You can also pay with coins. Or even gold! Hell, you can pay with rubies. But for some reason, you can’t pay with a credit card? Wat. In another level it says a caveman needs heat. Obviously they want you to give him fire, but a heater doesn’t work? Stuff like that. Oh, and you think a fallout shelter is going to protect you from that nuke? Think again, bitch.

Items don’t have any real weight to them either. Things like armored cars or tanks can be sent flying around just as easily as a feather. You think that tank’s going to get through that tornado? Nope, it’s going to get blown all over the fucking place. But hell, forget tornados. A fucking fan apparently can keep a tank airborne. And I mean the kind of fans poor people and Mexicans who can’t afford air conditioning have on their desks.

And finally we come to the problem that tops it all off. Once the novelty of being able to summon anything wears off, Scribblenauts gets really boring. The levels start to feel really similar and recycled. I can’t even count how many levels are “get item A to point B (usually without harming C)”. This kind of thing MIGHT work well if you’re sitting somewhere waiting for the bus or whatever, but playing it at home when you’ve got the option of playing a real game like Street Fighter II instead? Hell no.

The levels all start to feel like the same old shit, and while every once in a blue moon you come across a good one (like reenacting Back to the Future), after a while you start to notice that almost all the puzzles are easily solved with only a handful of the most useful items (namely, the ones that let you fly, ropes, invincible monsters, etc). Like I said, a lot of levels are get item A to point B, and that’s usually solved by summoning a flying item, attaching a rope to item A and flying it to point B. It gets real old. There’s no gameplay to be had there. Well, except for some pretty shitty gameplay. And no puzzle solving to be had either because they’re usually so straightforward. The only way to spice things up is to dick around and try to think of the most batshit ways to solve things.

But guess what, assholes? It’s YOUR job to entertain me. I shouldn’t have to find ways to spice things up just because you did such a shitty job. Fuck. Games are not toys. You can’t just give me a bunch of tools and then call it a day and be all “Ok, find some way to have fun with this!” That is not how it fucking works. That is lazy. And hey, I’m all for being lazy. But I ain’t getting payed for this shit. You are.

The game tries to be “harder” by letting you take on advanced challenges where you have to do the same level 3 times but each time using different items. That’s cool and all, until you realize you actually can use the same items, just that you have to think up synonyms. Rope, cable, wire, cord. Mechanic, Engineer, Machinist. Thunder, lightning, electricity. Fire, flame, campfire. Blob, slime, ooze. Advanced levels fucking complete.

Anyway, Scribblenauts is a shit game that is amazing at first but really bad once you get past the OH MY GOD I CAN USE ANYTHING phase. I almost didn’t have the willpower to finish it because it was really that boring.

Final Verdict: D

Final Playtime: Fuck it, another one of those shit games that don’t record your playtime.

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