Tuesday
Jan012013

QCF: Scribblenauts Unlimited

th Cell created quite the stir with Scribblenauts, a handheld puzzle game that mostly bound within the limitations of your imagination, when it first hit the scene in 2007. The latest installment, aptly subtitled Unlimited, gives you the tools to launch your imagination gloriously from the depths of your cortex vault and onto the screens of your television and Wii U gamepad.

While Scribblenauts Unlimited just may be the finest example of the concept utilizing all of the grand potential it has to offer, the advantages that the Wii U has to offer for the software are overlooked to an offensive degree. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a game where you can ride a narcissistic robot Pegasus with a flamethrower equipped or play a game of chess with a depressed clown while wearing a frog suit, but in the end you’re still left with a bitter taste of restraint and disappointment. And this time, it’s inexcusable.

Scribblenauts Unlimited expands upon the original game and its previous upgrade significantly. The environments are intricately connected and intertwined within one another in a seamless fashion that gives a subtle life to the game. Unlimited wisely gives you the outlet to fast travel through an Overworld map layout more traditionally if a trek through the neophyte Metroid-like world seems daunting, but the travel in itself in the world feels rewarding when you’re able to create a go-cart or ostrich to ride on. Traveling through the world, you’ll encounter random objectives amongst the denizens of the land, all who need your magical notebook. Wherein the previous entries fell short from the one-dimensional tasks given with little room to experiment with the given selection of the notebook’s capabilities (most issues could be solved through the use of a jetpack and a vacuum), Unlimited resplendently transcends these shortcomings and gives your imagination legs. We’re talking athletic legs, with plenty of room to stretch and run far.

Beyond the potential of constructing whatever your thoughts will through your notebook, the dynamic of implementing adjectives to define whatever you’re trying to achieve is honestly the real puncher. For example, there’s a woman that’s working as a secretary and needs to know when it’s quitting time for her shift so that she could clock out. I could’ve just generated a clock out of thin air like any other reasonable individual, but instead, I gave the woman the adjective “unemployed,” which solved the overall issue. The combination of nouns and adjectives doesn’t always pan out as gracefully as it should but more often than not, the appeal of being able to conceive and bend reality with your notebook through the construction of items is reinforced with the ability to define the objects, individuals, and situations.

The object editor is the real star in this latest iteration, which brings the gap of potential creative full circle to with object creation that will allow you to articulate several different features and functions to any given noun you’re trying to create. Being able to recreate the staff of Press Pause Radio and have them serve some sort of purpose that helps me advance through the objectives and quest personalizes the experience to such an extent that you’ll find yourself playing a different Scribblenauts game that manages to significantly contrast your experience variably than anyone else who plays it.

Speaking of the community element, sharing content created from the object editor and downloading user-created content adds another personal touch to your affair with Unlimited that layers on top of the innovative potential to expand the game’s repertoire for conception.

The bolstered creativity remains to be a vital charm even when replayabillity is a factor. But in spite of these enjoyable factors of Scribblenauts, the game remains to be an ostensible disappointment. Additional features aside, the game fails to really do anything more than redefine its already established foundation of mechanics, and ends up repackaging a formula that excels in a handheld format to a console format (one that features a unique approach to video gaming entirely in its own right) and does hardly anything with it.

The sandbox nature of its world helps cater to the environment of stationary couch play, but that’s about it. The Wii U advantage allows you to play the game completely independent from your television and just from the gamepad, along with the ability to have gamepad represent an existential notebook for whatever you do on your TV. However, you'll be just as disappointed as I was if you're expecting more. The possibilities of the gamepad being able to utilize different views beyond multiplayer, user-generated content, or just Miiverse Scribblenauts Unlimited wall in general are the only advantages to owning the Wii U version.

Functions that could have added to the concept are disregarded and while this doesn’t hurt the overall experience, it’s a missed opportunity and Scribblenauts Unlimited just ends up remaining the most enhanced entry of the franchise that simply refines its concept instead of expanding it. I’d recommend Scribblenauts Unlimited, but know that this game will add nothing to your Wii U experience that makes it a must play, it’s just good game its own right.

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