Like the earlier games in the “Scribblenauts” series, you play as the character Maxwell, the son of two great explorers. On one particular excursion, they happened upon a magical notebook that brought to life anything that was written on its pages. The notebook was bequeathed to young Maxwell, who used it for selfish and childish purposes until he played a practical joke on an old wizard. The wizard then turned his sister into stone for revenge. Maxwell vowed to only use the notebook for good, which earns him Starites. The right amount of Starites can be used to reverse the curse and bring his sister back to normal.
You guide Maxwell through different areas, talking to the locals and solving their problems with the trusty, magical notebook. Main quests grant Starites, while smaller side missions grant Starite slivers. Six slivers make one Starite.
The fundamental joy in “Scribblenauts” games is the open-ended nature of each mission. Say something requires fire in order to be solved. The player can summon a match, blowtorch, flamethrower, or even a fire-breathing dragon just by typing it in the notebook. “Scribblenauts” is an open book, and your imagination fills the pages. One could progress through the game quickly while creating simple solutions, but the gameplay is at its finest when you push the limits of the game’s internal dictionary.
The game does lack a logical progression of difficulty, which is its biggest weakness. I was able to blow through most of the quests with ease, so much so that the quests turned out feeling like chores rather than ones that opened new discoveries. On the other hand, some of the early stages presented side quests that I had no clue how to solve.
This iteration of the series adds adjectives to the mix. Now instead of creating generic objects like a lumberjack, you can make him angry, large, flying, or anything else you can think of. You can edit every object in the “Scribblenauts” world, changing its colors and size.
The “Scribblenauts” game style lends itself perfectly to the Wii U system. The television displays only Maxwell and his surroundings, plus a text box that displays the word being written in the magical notebook. The player with the GamePad has the same picture, but with an added HUD and keyboard for the stylus. Sound can only be heard from the TV. A GamePad-only mode can be activated in case someone else wants to watch TV.
“Scribblenauts Unlimited” isn’t for the hardcore gamer who’s only concerned with first-person shooters or role-playing games, but it does provide an experience that isn’t found in any other franchise. It’s an enjoyable test of imagination that can be appreciated by all ages. This type of gameplay can only be found in the “Scribblenauts” franchise.
8.75 out of 10
Gameplay lends itself well to the Wii U GamePad
Adjectives add a new layer of gameplay
Fun, whimsical style
Lacks progression of difficulty