Scribblenauts Unlimited Hands-On Preview -- Enroll in Wii U Spelling AcademyBy Jason Wishnov - Posted Jun 06, 2012
Scribblenauts, if you were unaware, was the remarkably ambitious Nintendo DS title that allowed the player to write any concrete noun, and see it cleanly pop into existence. The mere concept alone was mind-numbing, the dictionary of words immense, but some significant flaws (control issues, poorly designed mission structure) prevented it from greatness.
Its less-hyped sequel, Super Scribblenauts, successfully addressed these problems, as well as adding in the use of adjective modifiers, yet it didn’t seem to hit the radar as hard as one would expect. First impressions are important, as they say.
Scribblenauts, however, is getting a new breath of life in Scribblenauts Unlimited, being released for both the Wii U and the 3DS. We only got a chance with the Wii U version, but we came away impressed. The graphics certainly aren’t pushing the Wii U’s hardware, but they’re much cleaner and sharper than their portable counterparts, and the full breadth of the dictionary is of course well and intact.
One of the major new features is the ability to use the Wii U GamePad as a sort of object editor, in which you can access literally thousands of physical traits and components to create a custom object that you can then summon, at will, in the game. But 5th Cell has gone beyond simply allowing the creation of an object; they’re allowing creation of its behavior, by exposing a front-end, highly customizable scripting engine. You want the item to light aflame upon use, start to vibrate, and then explode violently? Done.
How about a sheep, five seconds after spawning, randomly turn into a velociraptor? 5th Cell has essentially given the player the very tools they themselves used to construct the dictionary, allowing for an even greater degree of customization. One slight caveat is that the GamePad is, unfortunately, a resistive touchscreen, so it doesn't offer the speed or accuracy of a more modern capacitive screen in both typing and construction. Still, the larger surface makes it certainly easier than the older DS on-screen keyboards.
The game structure itself has seen some changes as well: the game now takes place in a more open, connected world, far from the self-contained mini-stages from the previous two entries in the series. The themed areas in the game usually take on some clever name or another; we saw “Metaforest” and “The Saurus Desert” on the rather expansive world map. We’ll also see a bit of backstory on Maxwell himself, and how he came to be in possession of such a powerful magical notebook.
The game will presumably be a “launch window” game for the Wii U, which means either right at launch or shortly thereafter. Stay tuned for further Scribblenauts Unlimited coverage!