2009

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

 

As in the original, Super Scribblenauts has you solve puzzles with…well, anything. If you enter in a word, chances are they have it in their enormous dictionary. Everything from computer to broadsword, azalea to zebra, it’ll probably be there. They’ve also put in adjectives, which makes the game so much deeper and much less frustrating. It’s not just a cosmetic fix, either. For example, there are so many times in the original game that I wanted to make something heavy and wouldn’t be able to. In Super Scribblenauts, it’s very easy to make, say, a long heavy stone bridge.

 

This comes into play in a great deal of puzzles. One puzzle has you as a blacksmith attempting to outfit a soldier with weapons to defeat a variety of foes. The first weapon can be anything, but then they ask you to defeat flaming foes, so you have to create a weapon that has the power of ice, like a “Frozen Bow.”

 

In one puzzle, you’re presented with a giant robot and have to make a girlfriend for him. You have to make, say, a “Giant Metal Woman,” then give her clothes that will attract the robot and a romantic gift that a robot would like.

 

In a personal favorite puzzle, you have to get into a fancy party, get a keycard, turn off a security camera and get information from a safe without harming any of the guards. You have to create a disguise, immobilize a guard without killing him and then escape on a motorboat.

If these puzzles sound more focused than the original game’s puzzles, that’s because they are. They’ll usually explain exactly what your objective is, and then help you to figure out what you need to do next. Some people may like this, and some people won’t. I found that the improved focus made me much more creative, since I didn’t have to think so much about “How do I do this?” and focused instead on “what should I use?”

 

Another very welcome addition is a help system. If you need a hint, you can purchase up to two hints using the game’s currency, “Ollars.” In certain multi-stage puzzles, they’ll provide you with several hints for the various stages of the puzzle. I can’t tell you how many times that’s taken a puzzle from, “What the heck am I supposed to do here?” to “Oh, that makes sense.” It cuts way back on your frustration level and is greatly appreciated.

 

In the first game, puzzles were divided between “Action” and “Puzzle” types. The problem was that some of the so-called Action puzzles were more puzzle-y, and some of the puzzle ones demanded quick reflexes. On top of that, some action puzzles were so fast that you could barely get one word out before you were beset by enemies.

 

They’ve removed that distinction here. Now, most every puzzle gives you a little time to breathe beforehand, examine the situation and figure out what you need. There’s a timer running in the corner, but missing the allotted time doesn’t make you automatically end the puzzle.

 

The controls are also greatly improved. They give you the option of using the original game’s controls in case you liked them for whatever reason, but you’ll probably do what everyone else has done and map the movement controls to the D-pad. It’s amazing what this one little change did to the flow of the game. Now, instead of having the stylus handle character controls AND camera controls, the stylus is free to handle the camera and any objects you have on the map while you control your character’s movements.

There are a few times where you’ll wish that your character could jump higher or farther, or that he could run faster. However, I argue that those limiting factors improve your creativity. If your character could run at super speeds or leap large gaps, why would he need to create anything? It’s fine the way it is.

 

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones But Words Will Never Hurt Me

 

Super Scribblenauts still has a few flaws. For one, some puzzles are a little opaque. For example, in one puzzle you’re presented with four characters: A king, a butler, a leprechaun and another character. You have to put on clothes that will make all of them happy. I decided to make a gold plate, since the gold would make both the king and leprechaun happy and the plate would make the butler happy. Well, the butler didn’t like the plate.

 

Instead, I made a gold serving tray, assuming that now all three would be happy. Unfortunately, the king no longer liked the tray. Why? Who knows! Why didn’t the butler like the plate? Who knows! You’ll run into this from time to time: Puzzles that you would think you have answered end up being incorrect. You’ll try tweaking your answer or coming up with different answers and none of them are satisfying.

Also, sometimes they’ll expect you to read their mind a little too much. One puzzle had me coming up with items for an outdoor party. I put down a tent so that they would have shelter, but that was overthinking it. I had some food, some music and a clown for entertainment. They still wanted more. I tried putting down another entertainer, and they didn’t want that. I put down something to drink, and they liked that. I tried putting down sports equipment for activities, and they didn’t like that, and so on.

 

At no time did they tell me what I was missing. Even when I checked the hints it only asked for food and entertainment, and I got pretty desperate. I put down a grill, but it set fire to a table. A girl I put in there ate the cake I had made and got cavities. Worst party EVER.

They’ll also sometimes ask you to put down one more item that you can come up with. For example, they may ask for eight items to put in a garden. You’ll come up with 5 right off the bat and then they’ll start repeating. For instance, a rosebush just puts down a rose. If I put in a tulip, it’s the same as a rose, and so on. After a while, you’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

 

A Worthy Sequel

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