E3 2012 – Scribblenauts Unlimited, Beautifully Rendered

While at E3 I had the opportunity to play the upcoming Scribblenauts title for Wii U for a few minutes. Once it was announced at Nintendo‘s conference, people seemed pretty excited about it, as the innovative title is well loved on portable consoles but this will be it’s first appearance on a home console. Given the fact that it was previously on DS, it lends itself extremely well to adaptation on the Wii U GamePad, with it’s similar touch screen controls and navigational button layouts.

In this new iteration of Scribblenauts, Maxwell has unique challenges. Instead of opening the level with a description of the goal that lies before you, you must navigate Maxwell so that he meets people; tapping on the person on the GamePad screen brings up a dialog. No longer outlining the objective to a point where it is painfully obvious as in the previous titles, it’s mentioned subtly in conversation. You tap on the topic on the GamePad screen, and the person tells you the problem they are having. After a little bit of thought, you tap on the button below the conversation topic to open your notebook and begin creating.

The level that I had an opportunity to try is one set in a forest with a myriad of different objectives. In lieu of exiting to a world map every time there is an objective completed, the levels have been expanded dramatically. There were five or six groups of people to talk to in the level, each with their own unique problem which the player and Maxwell must use their imagination and stylus to overcome.

A couple of wolves tell of their wish to raise a human baby, the most obvious solution to which is to conjure a baby using the notepad. During objectives that are so simple as this, it’s fun to mix it up a little, utilizing the adjectives system. Instead of just giving them a baby I decided to give them a bearded baby. He wound up looking a little like a lumberjack.

Next, some kids wanted help finishing their treehouse, and another person wanted help retrieving a kite from a tree. This objective gave me the opportunity to try out a new feature that is unique to Scribblenauts Unlimited, tap on the person you are speaking to on the GamePad screen and then select “add adjective”. You can add adjectives to the people you interact with to change them into something new. To help the child get his kite, I added the adjective “winged”, and he flew up to grab his kite.

This new Scribblenauts is beautifully rendered. While it is still the same cartoon style as the others, it is noticeably more detailed and beautiful. The controls are intuitive (and not to mention FUN!) on the GamePad. The only thing that I found mildly troublesome is that I kept catching myself looking ONLY at the GamePad screen and not at the TV screen. I imagine that this will be a frequent theme with most Wii U titles as people get used to playing on the new platform, because every Wii U title will be designed to integrate both the TV and full playability on the GamePad itself. It wasn’t a bad thing that I kept being absorbed in playing it on the controller; I find that it was a positive aspect. It served as proof positive that playing on the GamePad without the TV will be as satisfying an experience as playing on the TV.

Scribblenauts Unlimited will be available for both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.

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Serra Wallerius
Serra Wallerius is an avid gamer, technology enthusiast and professional photographer. She attended Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine to receive her Bachelor's in Fine Arts with a focus in photography and has a studio located in Battle Creek, MI.