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Puzzle Games (Games) Games

Scribblenauts Impresses Critics 54

Posted by Soulskill
from the right-tool-for-the-job dept.
Despite all the announcements for popular, big-budget game franchises at this year's E3, one of the most talked-about titles is a puzzle game for the Nintendo DS called Scribblenauts. In a hands-on preview, Joystiq described it thus: "The premise of the game is simple — you play as Maxwell, who must solve various puzzles to obtain Starites spread across 220 different levels. To execute the aforementioned solving, you write words to create objects in the world that your cartoonish hero can interact with. It's a simple concept that's bolstered by one astounding accomplishment from developer 5th Cell: Anything you can think of is in this game. (Yes, that. Yes, that too.)" They even presented it with a test of 10 words they wouldn't expect it to know or be able to represent, including lutefisk, stanchion, air, and internet, and the game passed with flying colors. The game will also allow players to edit and share levels. A trailer is available on the Scribblenauts website, and actual gameplay footage is posted at Nintendorks.
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Scribblenauts Impresses Critics

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  • A must buy for me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @07:08AM (#28231611) Homepage
    I'm surprised how little attention this received during E3. I'll definitely be ordering this if only to use it to prove you can solve all problems with poo.
    • by moon3 (1530265)
      What is so amazing about this? There are a few predefined words that you have to 'scribble' instead of push a button, and that would be more appropriate and user friendly. To scribble or write "Spaceshuttle" like 10 times on that device might get annoying.

      As you can see in this video

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnqbwo3TQvQ [youtube.com]
      • by TheLink (130905)
        While you can probably keep writing the same old thing (e.g. jetpack, teleporter or spaceshuttle) I figure the game is more of finding fun/interesting ways of solving the puzzle, than solving the puzzle itself.

        Heck maybe finding hilarious ways of NOT solving the puzzle would be part of the metagame :).

        As in one trailer - a cop and a doughnut were created. The puzzle was not solved, but the cop was happy...
      • Then don't play it. I, on the other hand, will enjoy it.
      • There are a few predefined words that you have to 'scribble' instead of push a button, and that would be more appropriate and user friendly.

        Yeah, it really makes you wish for an on-screen keyboard [youtube.com]...

      • by lazyl (619939)
        The point is that it's not just "a few words". They're trying to include as many words as possible so that when you play the game you don't have to worry about what words it will recognize and you can just write anything you want.
  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @07:11AM (#28231621) Homepage Journal

    The gameplay footage was really quite interesting, but I'd give good odds that within a week of release people will have identified thousands of common words that don't work with it, or have found one word (jetpack?) that lets you solve all levels.

    If I'm wrong, though, it could be amazing.

    • by Udderdude (257795)

      You're probabally right, it seems more like a sandbox/toy than an actual game.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @09:30AM (#28232269)

      or have found one word (jetpack?) that lets you solve all levels.

      The review seems to suggest that solving the levels isn't necessarily the hard part. It's solving them in few moves and with interesting strategies. For instance the review says: "awarded me badges -- achievements for clever word usage".

      They have probably pre-assigned "novelty" numbers to a variety of words, based both on general frequency of usage, and also the "capability" of the word. I'm guessing that "jetpack" and "robot" and "laser rifle" will have low point values because they are so useful, whereas "treadmill" and "oasis" and "diorama" will have higher values because their usage is less obvious. The game might even keep track of words you use, and give you fewer points for re-used words, as compared to pulling out something totally new. If this is the case, then a given level will actually get more challenging as you keep replaying it, because you'll have eliminated all of the obvious strategies early on.

      The thing is this is a puzzle game. The fun comes not from just getting to the end of the game, but in trying to solve puzzles in new and interesting ways.

      Of course that may just be my imagination running wild. I'll have to actually play the game to see if they've calibrated all of this in a fun way.

      • by fbjon (692006)

        The review seems to suggest that solving the levels isn't necessarily the hard part. It's solving them in few moves and with interesting strategies. For instance the review says: "awarded me badges -- achievements for clever word usage".

        Sound kind of like Crayon physics, in which case I'll buy this game as soon as I can.

        • by Jedi Alec (258881)

          Same here. Crayon Physics was awesome, and watching my 4 year old niece play it was even better.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by wisty (1335733)

        Do you think there will be an add-on that gives bonus points for using words that were deliberately excluded from the family version?

  • Wait 'till some 14 yr. old writes in a naughty word. If the game doesn't have the items, rest assured there are people that will make some for it.
    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      They already said that swear words won't be accepted and it's a console game so modifications aren't easy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TinBromide (921574)
      Here i was hoping it'd drop bars of soap or censor bars for those items.
  • I hope they add Obama for the final version.

  • I wonder how many regular nouns there are in English for them to have created? It seems like a lot. If Einstein is in there, how many other famous figures are also in there?
  • Impressive? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lyinhart (1352173)
    I'm not sure why there's so much buzz about this game. It's quite similar to other recent "indie" games like "World of Goo" and especially "Crayon Physics" - action puzzlers that involve using lateral thinking to build structures and get to an exit. And Scribblenauts doesn't look nearly as impressive as either two of those games. Besides, all these titles have the same basic premise as good 'ol "Lemmings."
    • Re:Impressive? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by John Betonschaar (178617) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @07:39AM (#28231733)

      You don't get it, the game isn't impressive because it's a puzzle game, but because it's a whole new idea that seems impossible to implement, but apparently works pretty well.

      • Re:Impressive? (Score:5, Informative)

        by xeoron (639412) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @08:39AM (#28231979) Homepage
        True.... There is also a wonderfully wacky aspect to it as well, which one reviewer of the game at E3 talked about, here [neogaf.com], which is this:

        I was in the early levels; I didn't quite have an idea of how ridiculously in-depth the database was. I was summoning things like ladders, glasses of water, rayguns, what have you. But I reached a level with zombie robots, and the zombie robots kept killing me. Rayguns didn't work, a torch didn't work, a pick-axe didn't work. In my frustration, I wrote in "Time Machine". And one popped up. What the f!%k? A smile dawned on my face. I hopped in, and the option was given to me to either travel to the past or the future. I chose past. When I hopped out, there were f!%king dinosaurs walking around. I clicked one, and realized I could RIDE THEM. So I hopped on a f!%ing DINOSAUR, traveled back to the present, and stomped the shit out of robot zombies. Did you just read that sentence? Did you really? I F!%KING TRAVELED THROUGH TIME AND JUMPED ON A DINOSAUR AND USED IT TO KILL MOTHERF!%KING ROBOT ZOMBIES. This game is unbelievable. Impossible. There's nothing you can't do.

        • by bwalling (195998)
          I hope this game is as cool as it sounds, but I have one major concern - balance. If you can summon anything at any time, it's going to be difficult for them to have balance in the game. Figure out the most powerful item and summon it to kill anything you need to have killed. It's one thing to balance 20 races in a game, it's another to balance the dictionary. Of course, maybe the puzzles somehow take care of this issue.
          • by tepples (727027)

            I hope this game is as cool as it sounds, but I have one major concern - balance.

            Lack of balance has never stopped other sandbox games like Animal Crossing, which really is that easy [pineight.com]. If they make Scribblenauts too easy, players will create self-imposed challenges [tvtropes.org]: "Try to beat level X of Scribblenauts with only words meeting criteria Y and Z."

            It's one thing to balance 20 races in a game

            In some fans' minds, NASCAR has failed to balance even two of its highest profile races: Daytona and Talladega have become bumper cars. Or did you mean something else?

          • Re:Impressive? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by KDR_11k (778916) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @09:27AM (#28232251)

            AFAIK the real challenge of the game is not to get to the end but to find as many different ways as you can for solving a puzzle.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I read an interview about this game I think almost a year ago, and was pretty impressed with the scope. They went through Dictionaries and Encyclopedias to create an enormous object database. There are a lot of nouns in the English language.

        To list them all and give them a single attribute is quite a lot. To make them recognisable, animated, and to allow your character to interact with them is huge. To then define the way in which they also interact with one another is incredible. The parameters needed to b

    • Re:Impressive? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @08:27AM (#28231915) Homepage
      World of goo is very fun and might have the same very basic premise, I wouldn't say this is anything like that. World of goo is about taking one known set of tools and using them over and over to get around physics. Scribblenauts is about trying to take anything to solve a problem.

      But even if you could say Scribblenauts is exactly like World of goo, I say it's nice to have a few similar games for people, who like those games, to purchase and a clone of World of Goo is definitely better than yet another WWII shooter or yet another street racing game.
      • by mqduck (232646)

        By now, there's probably been more time spent by humanity playing WWII-themed games than fighting the actual war.

  • Wtf nintendorks? (Score:2, Informative)

    by ZERO1ZERO (948669)
    Before I started, I watched a douchey businessman type in "whisky" [sic] which, of course, is a misspelling of what he wanted. Instead, he got the "whisky carriage", which is absolutely incredible. Of course, the idiot business dude thought the game was wrong when it presented him with a charming gauche carriage but it was HE who was wrong so what an idiot, am I right or am I right.

    Sorry what is this guys problem? Is he saying that whisky [wikipedia.org] isn't a word? What an asshole. Sorry I meant, arsehole.

    • While the Nintendorks guy is wrong, Whisky can mean two things and it's cool that they've at least included the carriage and if they include the drinking, using only the spelling whiskey for the drink and whisky for the carriage is a good compromise. That and the game is developed by Americans and American whiskey includes the e so it's understandable why they would have opted for that.
  • by Jerrei (1515395) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @08:04AM (#28231827)
    "Allah"
  • This game is truly an amazing concept, and I don't minimize the difficulty of having such a large set of objects that interact with the game world in a meaningful fashion - indeed, I'd like to see something like this in a PS3 game.

    However, I think these 20-Q games [amazon.com] are also amazing: they are a small ball, running off IIRC an AAA battery or two, that plays a pretty good game of 20 questions. I've thought of some pretty weird things and it has gotten it right amazingly often (OK, I'll be fair: if I'm thinking

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      It's not actually that difficult a problem once you have the database. And they built the database partially with crowdsourcing on their online site - 20q.net.

  • I still haven't forgiven J.S. for that ghastly 'secret flower' gag in Drawn to Life. :( He probably didn't write his own character's dialogue, though... who knows.
  • Their previous DS game, Drawn to Life also had a great premise, you can draw your main character and then draw platforms, and ships, etc. basically you're the game's main artist. That was okay, but the actual gameplay was simply awful and the story was directed at three year olds and bogged the entire game down incredibly.

    My full review if you're interested.
    http://firsthour.net/beyond-the-first-hour-review/drawn-to-life [firsthour.net]

    Anyways, not to be a downer but I hope this game doesn't have a story. Let me just go c

  • Oh boy.

    So was this is how Open Mind and Mindpixel ended up being implemented? What a shame that neither creator lived to see it.

    -FL

  • by bughunter (10093) <bughunter@noSPaM.earthlink.net> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @01:01AM (#28239207) Journal
    Scribblenauts reminds me of things like the Fantasy Game from Ender's Game [wikipedia.org], and the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer; a Propædeutic Enchiridion in which is told the tale of Princess Nell and her various friends, kin, associates, &c. from Diamond Age [wikipedia.org] by Neal Stephenson.

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