Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Scribblenauts for the Nintendo DS

A few months ago, I was watching "Reviews on the Run", a great Canadian tech show dedicated to video games on all platforms. I tune in every once in awhile to check out what's coming up for the any of the game consoles I own and to admire the hardware girls, the models that hold the computer peripherals while the two guys talk about them (Evangeline Lilly from Lost got her start on that show!). My kid has a Nintendo DS. On this day they talked about this new title called Scribblenauts and it caught my attention. The catch phrase is "Write Anything, Solve Everything". You are this little pixelated dude named maxwell and you have to collect these Starites, little rewards in the game, by solving puzzles. In some cases the Starites are sitting there onscreen and you just have to go over and pick them up. They could be, stuck in a tree, guarded by a rabid dog, hidden under a boulder, buried in the ground. To help you get them, Maxwell has the ability to summon any object he can think of (from a database of 28,000 words) by writing its name on the touchscreen.

Basically you write it's name, and it appears onscreen for you to interact with. For example. You see a Starite in a tree. You can summon an AXE to chop down the tree and get the starite, or you can summon a FLAME THROWER to burn down the tree and get the Starite (the Flame thrower is great for a lot of things, I keep going back to it). You can summon GLUE and an ANVIL and you can put the glue on the Anvil, chuck it in the tree at the Starite which gets stuck to the Anvil and falls to the ground. Or you can summon GOD and he can sit there and do nothing while you think of another way to get the Starite.

After a few minutes you forget about the game and just start typing in random words just to see if the developers were crazy enough to put them in the game. MANBEARPIG is a fun one! They even have BIGFOOT! The LOCH NESS MONSTER. ZOMBIES (if you have other characters on screen the zombies touch them and turn them into zombies - except god. He seems to dispel the zombies. At least he's good for something!). CLOWN and MIDGET are there, as well as HANDCUFFS, so you can handcuff the clown to the midget just for fun, it doesn't really help you solve the puzzle. You can summon an AIRCRAFT CARRIER! I tried TIME MACHINE as a joke and by this time I was not surprised to see some type of floating buggy show up and teleport me off to the stone age where I was able to jump on the back of a BRONTOSAURUS and take him back with me to the present where he stepped on the MIDGET and made him disappear.

True to life, the game has a JERK. He is an angry looking dude who shows up and starts punching you, unless he bumps into a zombie, in which case he becomes one of them and tries to eat your brains. BAZOOKA's are useful for dealing with JERKS, as is a TANK or an ATOMIC BOMB.

This may be the best game ever invented up until this point in time. Some hacker opened up the ROM file and found some 22,000 words and exported a list of them online. Then someone else claimed to have found 28,000 words. The developers said there are much more than that!

This is a great game. My kid is learning to spell, as am I. For instance, I thought Pterodactyl started with a T!

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