Super Scribblenauts is in a precarious position. Coming out just one year after the release of its imaginative predecessor, the second adventure in dictionary land doesn't have the luxury of relying on novelty. Once you've dabbled with the ability to conjure thousands of objects on the fly, it's hard to feel the same rush you had the first time you brought a monocle-wearing walrus to life or pitted a snowman against a velociraptor in a fight to the death. In some ways, Super Scribblenauts is an improvement over the original. There is now a D pad alternative to the cumbersome touch-screen controls, and the inclusion of adjectives lets you modify the already impressive number of nouns to a staggering degree. But even though the core mechanics have been refined, the puzzle-themed levels are significantly worse. The carefree freedom from the original has been stripped away, and in the process, the magic has fizzled out. Super Scribblenauts is still fun if you're just testing your extensive vocabulary in sandbox mode, but the flat puzzles fail to capture the special feeling of the original.
6281694Narwhals finally get their proper recognition in gaming.None
One of the most important changes to Super Scribblenauts is to the controls. Previously, the touch screen handled all of your in-game interactions, which lead to aggravating deaths and a crushing lack of precision. While that option is still available in Super Scribblenauts, you now have the choice to use the D pad to move Maxwell, and it's a welcome change from the clunky original. Because both lateral movement and jumping are mapped to the pad, you can use one hand to control the hero while your other hand is free to use the stylus to type in words or interact with objects. The physics system has also been overhauled. Objects have been given more weight now, which makes it easier to keep everything in check. Adjectives have been thrown into the mix as well. While this doesn't drastically alter the experience, it's certainly fun seeing what a cheeky zombie is like or creating a vengeful, robotic god to dole out some Futuristic Testament justice. And if you ever wanted to see an anthropomorphic surfboard, now's your chance.
Although the basics have been improved in Super Scribblenauts, the level design is a serious step backward. In the original game, levels were broken down into action and puzzle stages. In the sequel, aside from a few bonus stages late in the game, every level is of the puzzle variety. You enter a situation and have a question posed to you. For instance, you may need to create the individual parts of a snowman or find the missing link in a lineup of animals. There is good variety in the types of puzzles you encounter, which should keep you on your toes, but the solutions are extremely limited. In one puzzle, you have to arm town people against angry invaders. Weapons, such as guns and knives, do the trick just fine, but a number of problems become apparent if you try to be original. Giving a hoe or brick to a villager doesn't register in the slightest. Furthermore, a knife, spear, and axe all count as the same device, and a whip is promptly ignored. By painting you into a corner, the puzzles in Super Scribblenauts present a test of trivial knowledge rather than ways for you to express your creative freedom.
All the animals in existence to choose from and Maxwell is riding a turtle.
But the problems stretch far deeper than unimaginative puzzles. Real-world logic does not always apply, which means you have to guess what answer the game has in mind rather than use your instinctual response. In one level, you have to feed a hungry dog. This should be easy because dogs eat just about anything, but that's far from the case. If you try to give it tasty meat, the dog may turn up its nose and walk away. Instead, you have to give it dog food. Yes, dogs do eat dog food, but no sane mutt would deny the culinary pleasure of a hunk of a delicious chop. This issue crops up again and again in a huge variety of punishing ways. In a different stage, you have to recruit teachers to work at a college. You have to fill a wide pool of subjects, but only the most obvious, general disciplines are accepted. A math teacher is all well and good, but don't even think about being able to make a Spanish or chemistry teacher. The in-game hint system is even more troubling; it urges you to make a health teacher, but if you type in those words, nothing happens. The game forces you to run through the list of synonyms until you finally arrive on nutritionist or dietitian. Just about every puzzle plays out in this manner, which makes for an aggravating experience that rarely embraces the unrestrained fun of the original game.