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Scribblenauts Impresses Critics

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the right-tool-for-the-job dept.

Puzzle Games (Games) 54

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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54 comments

Frosty Scribblenauts (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28231597)

Teh first

A must buy for me (3, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231611)

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.

Re:A must buy for me (1)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232041)

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]

Re:A must buy for me (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232685)

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...

Re:A must buy for me (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232815)

Then don't play it. I, on the other hand, will enjoy it.

Re:A must buy for me (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28233399)

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] ...

Re:A must buy for me (1)

lazyl (619939) | more than 5 years ago | (#28250905)

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.

Re:A must buy for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28238467)

i enjoy play safari hunting free game.. http://safari-hunting-free-games.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Hmm (4, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231621)

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.

Re:Hmm (1)

Udderdude (257795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231819)

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

Re:Hmm (5, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Hmm (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232451)

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.

Re:Hmm (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28263457)

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

Re:Hmm (2, Funny)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28233131)

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

Too much freedom (2, Funny)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231631)

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.

Re:Too much freedom (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231715)

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

Re:Too much freedom (2, Insightful)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231917)

Here i was hoping it'd drop bars of soap or censor bars for those items.

Obama (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231647)

I hope they add Obama for the final version.

Re:Obama (5, Funny)

Bai jie (653604) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232079)

That'd be a cheat since he'd solve all problems. Right?

Re:Obama (-1, Flamebait)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232529)

Jokes are funnier when you don't explain them. Right? Seriously, the only thing that stopped that guy's joke from being a masterpiece was the limp subject line. Next time, why don't you provide him some constructive criticism instead of sarcastically implying that he's a dullwit?

Re:Obama (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 5 years ago | (#28234121)

I don't think that's what he was trying to do. What you both seem to have missed is that in the video, they wrote in Obama, and were disappointed when nothing happened.
I merely thought it would be cool if an Obama figure turned up. I wasn't even trying to make a joke (and you can see, I'm not modded funny at present)

Sadly no (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238067)

They forgot to include "Teleprompter"

how many nouns? (1)

Crookdotter (1297179) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231661)

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?

Re:how many nouns? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28231707)

I bet Hitler will be a (in)famous figures that wont be included.

Re:how many nouns? (1)

16384 (21672) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231713)

I was wondering all this time if Chuck Norris was there, and what abbilities he would have :)

Re:how many nouns? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231891)

Unless of course Chuck Norris has a copyright on his own name then he won't be in there. Otherwise he better be in there.

You mean "trademark", and yes, it is TM'd. (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232099)

You can't copyright a name. But I found over 20 live trademark registrations at USPTO.gov for "CHUCK NORRIS", "CHUCK NORRIS FACTS", "CHUCK NORRIS IS THE FACT", and "CHUCK NORRIS APPROVED". Unfortunately, USPTO.gov's TESS search engine does not give out persistent links to search result pages, but individual results from TARR are persistent. These include CHUCK NORRIS APPROVED nutritional supplements, martial arts clothing, and action figures [uspto.gov] ; CHUCK NORRIS T-shirts [uspto.gov] , and CHUCK NORRIS FACTS mousepads [uspto.gov] .

Re:how many nouns? (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231923)

Chuck Norris can divide by zero.

Could this be THE GAME? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28231665)

Sharks with lasers!! FTW

Re:Could this be THE GAME? (4, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231723)

Supposedly attributes like "with lasers" aren't allowed, the example they gave was a burning zombie elephant, you can't get that. You can, however, summon an elephant, a zombie and a torch and try to combine those. If you want a shark with a laser you have to summon both parts and try attaching the laser to the shark without getting eaten.

Re:Could this be THE GAME? (1)

adlib24 (739952) | more than 5 years ago | (#28233847)

I bet it only recognizes nouns, which for a large set is impressive in its own right, but to be able to create ways for all the nouns to interact...that would be the really amazing part. To have a system, where you can put any two or three objects together and get some meaningful interaction is mind-boggling. Sure we all know what Shark + Laser should be, but what about Jello + Harley, Yarn + Glass, DS + PS3, in principle the possibilities are quite literally endless. The funny thing is I now want to buy the game just to see what Jello+Harley does.

Impressive? (2, Interesting)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231697)

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? (4, Insightful)

John Betonschaar (178617) | more than 5 years ago | (#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? (5, Informative)

xeoron (639412) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231979)

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.

Re:Impressive? (1)

bwalling (195998) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232031)

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.

Self-imposed challenges (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232157)

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? (4, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Impressive? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28233149)

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 be defined for this is almost astronomical.

Create an item. Can it be used by a human? An animal? In what ways? Can it be broken, climbed on, burnt, eaten, cut, fired, shattered, melted, driven, flown, guided? Some items may be able to modify it, some may not. Some in ways different than others. In what ways will this then change its appearance, function, interaction, etc.

On a side note... It would be nice to see such a database shared among developers. It seems like a lot of time is wasted in games recreating the same types of objects and interactions.

It is very much a sandbox game. Like many have said, though, the focus is not only getting the item, but how fast you can do it, how few items you can do it with, in how many different ways you can do it, etc.

I was impressed with the idea when first learning of it, but wasn't sure how well it could turn out. Fun, but very basic and limited, I thought. I'm amazed how well it has come out. I haven't bought a game in years, and rarely pay full price for a game, or buy them new... but this one seems to be getting more and more interesting. I'm really looking forward to see how this turns out.

Re:Impressive? (3, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231915)

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.

Re:Impressive? (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28239577)

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

Wtf nintendorks? (2, Informative)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231719)

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.

Re:Wtf nintendorks? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231969)

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.

Re:Wtf nintendorks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28232101)

I seem to recall having been explained that "whiskey" is the Irish one, while "whisky" is Scottish. Google seems to find a few sources (including this one [nola.com] ) that confirm this.

Re:Wtf nintendorks? (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232945)

Irish and American Whiskeys are spelled with the "e". Canadian and Scottish Whiskys are not.

I want to play I want to play (3, Funny)

Jerrei (1515395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28231827)

"Allah"

Re:I want to play I want to play (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28231857)

Same as "God", duh... Try "nuke", "blackhole", "dildo", "douche", "t-rex", "sun", "pedophile", "diahrrea", "source code", "terrorist", "freedom fighter", "republican", "retard"...

Re:I want to play I want to play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28236371)

Try Muhammed

Amazing, but these are even more amazing. (1, Offtopic)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232139)

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 "Airwolf" and it guesses "helicopter" I'll give it a pass). All that on a device that you can pick up in stores for $10.

Re:Amazing, but these are even more amazing. (2, Informative)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28232523)

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.

Jeremiah Slaczka (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28233573)

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.

A little worried (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#28234673)

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 crazy with summoning items and give me puzzle after puzzle.

The question of the day-- Who would win: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28235727)

Pirates, or Ninjas,

and is the FSM in it? We can't allow "God" to be represented without the FSM!!

Singh & McKinstry (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238445)

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

Reminds me of concepts from SF (2, Interesting)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28239207)

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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