Scribblenauts can best be described as a great artist, on the one hand wildly creative and imaginative, yet baffling and frustrating on the other. The game has the basic mechanics of a platform game, but it’s true innovation lies in the ability to conjure objects at will to interactive with in the levels.
What kind of objects? Well, almost anything you can think of.
You simply bring up an on-screen keyboard, and whatever you type will appear in the game. A striped, massive crocodile, or a bazooka wielding elephant, a winged car, basically anything your imagination can come up with can be created in the game.
The great thing about the objects is that they properly interact with each other. If there are a few zebras in the stage and you create a lion, he will attack and eat the zebras. Conjure up some grass, however and the zebras will eat that. Send in some tanks and dinosaurs and anything could happen…..
That concept is applied to all the puzzles in the game, and while some of them are wonderfully inventive, some are either far too simplistic or far too left field to provide satisfying gameplay. I think the basic problem is that the learning curve is skewed, as a level that is completely bizarre in its solution and has terrible clues is often followed by a level that is so easy that you wonder why the developer bothered with it.
The graphics are nicely done, with the most impressive aspect being the incredible variety of objects the developer has created, and it all runs very smoothly for the most part. Music and spot effects are good, but pretty forgettable.
There are few options for the controls, the default method being by far the worst, so you will want to switch it pretty quickly. As a platform game, this is very basic but it has to be that way to account for all the possible outcomes of your crazy scribblings.
The best part of the game is the playground option where you pick from a variety of backgrounds and then are free to do whatever you like. It is here that the game comes alive, unrestricted by demands of stages and objectives. I really wish there was a way to bring things into the game but not have them come to life until you want them to, as you could then set up much better set pieces.
There is full Game Center integration, and the ability to post your scores to both Twitter and Facebook.
Overall, this is a gem of a game let down by some strange and obtuse level objectives. If creating and experimenting your own platform game characters and levels sounds great, then pick this up immediately. If you are looking for deep and fulfilling gameplay then you may want to look elsewhere, but overall this is occasionally brilliant, fun and worth the asking price.
Scribblenauts Remix is currently on sale for JUST 99¢!
This review originally appeared on The Smartphone App Review (October 18, 2011). And the app had has a number of updates since then.