Saturday, December 29, 2012

Game Review! Scribblenauts Unlimited

First, I'll apologize for not posting in a while. Okay done. Now for... a review. Let's take a romp down memory lane with my first game review here on ChuckBlog. Take a look.

From January 23, 2011:
My first game review! Some people would have liked me to review something like, COD or Fifa, or Assassin's Creed, but I picked a game I think deserves at leats a cajillion rewards.Super Scribblenauts, a breakthough in gaming. You play as Maxwell, an imaginative chaacter who posseses a magical object, his notepad. In the game, you have to solve puzzles to obtain starites, to win the level. To solve these puzzles, you must think of an object that can help you out, then write it in Maxwell's Notebook. It will then appear, and you can use it! You can even add adjectives, it is incredible! (Or Scribblenautical as my friend Russel would say.) the game itself is for your DS, and will make a great addition! It is one of my favortie games!

Yeah man, it's THAT good.

That kinda hurt to read. All thing said, Super Scribblenauts is still one of my favorite games of all time. There is a concept here that simply cannot be overlooked in it's fantasticalness. The ability to summon almost anything with almost any properties within the realm of a game is simply brilliant, and for me, Super Scribblenauts is an almost perfect game.

And now a new page is turned, a new generation is here, and Scribblenauts came as well. I'll tell you, I was more excited about this game than any other launch title on the WiiU when I first saw it. I remember my friends and I eagerly huddling around a tiny screen, watching the Nintendo Press Conference, waiting for news about new titles on this exciting new platform. And then it was there, Scribblenauts on the WiiU. On a home console, in HD! Scribblenauts Unlimited, they called it, and it looked to be the most fantastic thing ever. Not only was there all the original features, but new things like being able to make your own items (WHAT?) and it promised to finally tell the tale of Maxwell's Mysterious Journal! I had been waiting for a concrete plot to explain the doppleganger, Scribblenauts, Starites, and Maxwell for years now! This game promised to cater to my every need. 

And I finally got it! And yet... something was wrong. Something was missing. 

Let's get started with the review portion, eh?

GAMEPLAY: Why not start with plot? You'll see. Scribblenauts has always suffered in the controls department. In fact, that's what keeps Super Scribblenauts from being an absolute perfect game in my book. Scribblenauts Unlimited improved some, and it certainly didn't get any worse. In all, it isn't nearly as clunky as the original, feels quite a bit more streamlined, and doesn't hinder the game in any way. Typing is all the same; where Unlimited makes it's biggest change gameplay wise is with the item editor! And this is the best part of Unlimited. The item editor allows one to take any item, tear it apart, rebuild it in ANY way imaginable, give it it's own traits and directives, and set it free. I've made plenty of awesome things like a gun that shoots kittens that blow up like nuclear warheads, a dragon that works like a priest, and man-spider who plays guitar. You can also set up your own shop and other players can download and rate your creations. It's a neat addition that works really well and adds a lot to Scribblenauts. However, the puzzles in Scribblenauts Unlimited are dumbed down inexcusably. This happened to the point that I was given a puzzle, came up with a creative solution, and seeing that nothing happened typed in a stupidly obvious answer and guess what, it worked!  This is not what Scribblenauts was about! It was about solving devious puzzles that required you to think and use your creativity, not to make you feel good about writing the word "apple" when given the puzzle "He's hungry."

PRESENTATION: And here's another place I was disappointed in Scribblenauts Unlimited. It took everything I've come to expect from a Scribblenauts game and changed it, and it didn't feel right! I have no qualm with change, but Unlimited just doesn't... feel right all the time. It feels like it wants to be something different, and I don't like this. Let me discuss. Traditionally, in a Scribblenauts game, you have a menu to select levels, and a sandbox to experiment in. This is great. Each level has a goal, and once you reach it you find a Starite, what you need to complete the game. If you ever need to test something out without jeopardizing a puzzle, you can save and go to the sandbox, make your own world from scratch. Scribblenauts Unlimited throws this all out the window. Each "level" is a huge map with multiple "objectives" and one or two Starite missions. Instead of navigating a collection of challenges within a group, you must roam around a large map and search for starite shards. These shards are obtained by solving incredibly mind-numbingly simple puzzles on the over world (such as the hungry man one I mentioned, only easier). Some of them are actually creative, and I'm not saying I didn't have fun with some of them, but they didn't feel right. However, the classic levels from Scribblenauts and it's Super Sequel remain. When you find a character with a starite icon the map changes to accommodate a level. By the way, they're all super easy. There's no sandbox in Unlimited, which is also a huge downer. To feel right I have to kill everyone in a stage (which, admittedly, is fun) THEN use it as a sandbox. 

STORY: You know something I liked about Super Scribblenauts? It was simple. There was a lot to see and do, but the story was simple. You're Maxwell, a Scribblenaut. You're job is to find starites using a notebook that lets you summon anything. Along the way you'll have to fight many enemies and solve many problems. But the biggest challenge of all, is yourself. The game ends with a climactic battle against your evil doppleganger on the moon, one of the most epic games ever. Finally, Unlimited would reveal all my questions. How did Maxwell become a Scribblenaut (did it take place between Scribblenauts and Super)? What are the origins of the Doppleganger? What are the starites? Well guess what? Scribblenauts Unlimited decided that the cool story they had been building up to didn't deserve any more explanation, and that we would need something a bit more... watered down. Not as much mystery. Here's the plot in a nutshell: So these two adventurers fall in love and have like a billion kids (forty-two actually). And they give two of their favorite kids (Maxwell and his Sister) two fantastic items: a globe that will take you anywhere on the world, and a notebook that can summon anything (where they got them is anyone's guess). However, Mr. and Mrs. Adventurer fear that their children are becoming spoiled, so they send them away from home (at the age of like fourteen) to brave the world and gain character! So Maxwell and Sister set out to see the world. Almost immediately they are stopped by an old man asking for food (gee, sounds a lot like a puzzle I MENTIONED). Maxwell, who for some reason is a stuck-up jerk who loves to ruin people's lives in this telling of the Scribblenauts story, writes the man a rotten apple. The man gets upset and then casts a curse on Maxwell's sister, causing here to slowly turn into stone. The only way to save her is to gather starites so off he goes. Honestly, I strongly dislike this story. If this is 5th Cell's way of reinventing the Scribblenauts Story, then I am incredibly disappointed. However, the thought occurred to me that Scribblenauts Unlimited could simply be a prequel to the original Scribblenauts, that this is how Maxwell got his start finding Starites before he became a Scribblenaut. In all, the story wouldn't be too bad then. It even tells the tale of the doppleganger's origins (although quite briefly). It's not bad, but it doesn't feel quite right.

THE VERDICT: I'm going to go ahead and say, I like Scribblenauts Unlimited. This is in now way a bad game, it's a great game. If someone who was new to Scribblenauts played it, they might call it near to perfect. But as a fan, this game does not deliver where I wanted it to. The presentation feels wrong, the puzzles are way too easy, and the story is disappointing. However, the game is still Scribblenauts, and contains the innovation. The item editor is just enough to keep me very satisfied with the game, but it falls short of it's predecessors in my own opinion. Now, I know I normally use stars, but I will use a decimal system for this and say that is Super Scribblenauts was a 9.3 in my book, Scribblenauts Unlimited is a solid


Let me stress again: this is a very good game. It simply lacked the magic of the original titles to me. However, this game is still a complete blast to play. In fact, I'm going to go play it now!