Friday, July 17, 2009

Copyright or Wrong: cameos and references

I've been holding off on writing a new article all week thinking that some other news might be released and overshadow it. First it was NGamer saying they'd release more pictures earlier in the week...of course, that never happened. Then today Edge said they were going to release the video for their contest which would show them using the winner's solution to solve 10-6...will that never happened either! I've finally decided to say, "Screw it!" and make a new article anyways...knowing my luck, this will prompt a news story to release.

Today we have another edition of Copyright or Wrong. This time, I want to look at references, and how they pertain to Scribblenauts.

Gordon Freeman is not in this game. That's a fact. He's a proper noun and a trademarked guy to boot. However, what defines Freeman's character? The hazmat suit? Glasses? Classic crowbar weapon? Probably all of the above when combined. Thankfully, because Scribblenauts contains (near) every item imaginable...

Separated at birth? Nah. The guy on the right doesn't have a cool rooster hat.

...well, you get pretty close to a Freeman clone! In fact, this reference was seen in the 2nd trailer, hinting that not only do the devs know this is possible, but they are in fact encouraging it. Indeed, one can imagine commercials or ads making use of this ability to do famous references in the Scribblenauts style. You can imagine the same idea is used for the now famous Scribbletars.

Those who are fans of Disney movies may recognize this next one without any sort of explanation:

Yep, that's the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella on the left, and a currently unknown Scribblenauts character on the right. One can only assume their likeness is no coincidence, and most likely you can summon that character by writing in "Fairy Godmother". Speculation, of course, but it does seem rather obvious once you compare their similar features. Red bow, blue cloak, white hair...well, it's just too perfect not to be it.

For something completely different, let's take a look at this next guy. Long hair, bare chest, distinctive headband...

Oh yes, that definitely looks like Conan the Barbarian to me. This was another character revealed in the Nintendo Power issue previewing Scribblenauts, so we're not entirely sure if this guy is simply summoned by writing "Barbarian" or perhaps some other word. But like the fairy godmother above I'd say the possibility is very real when you look at them side by side. The reference is pretty damn obvious.

So what does this mean for the average gamer? Well, to the disappointment of many, you're not going to be seeing Nintendo's famous Mario or House the diagnostician in this game. You won't be using Michael Jackson to solve a puzzle, and Snow White cares not about your starites.

But give the doctor a cane...give the plumber a red hat and mushroom...give the singer a single glove...and give that princess 7 midgets to look after...

I think by now you get my point.

I'd say a fair deal of people are upset that Scribblenauts will not be containing very many proper nouns or famous people, though I definitely think they have no reason to be angry. Some are confused as to why Mario cannot be in the game even though it's on the DS. Others seem to think because Einstein and Lincoln are in that means characters such as Chuck Norris (cough) and the like should have a free ride.

Thankfully I feel like no one is going to be disappointed once they get their hands on the game. Some references you might have to "work for" or use your imagination. As it stands, Scribblenauts at this point is basically one big cameo generator. Pick a stock character, dress it up in a familiar way and plop it into a familiar setting, and you got a do-it-yourself Easter Egg. Like everything else in this game, you're only limited by your imagination.


  1. How would one construct the Freeman costume? The glasses and crowbar are obvious, but it seems unlikely that you can write "hazmat suit". Perhaps it's a "suit", dyed orange (with "dye")? :P

    In any case, the suit's not exactly clear.

  2. It's a hazmat according to Jackson

    "You don't get Gordon Freeman when you write crowbar.

    That's just Maxwell wearing a hazmat suit, glasses and a crowbar, which happens to look like someone when paired together"

    Hazmat suits exist in real life.

  3. Maybe youll spawn maio when writing plumber

  4. @Joshua Yes, hazmat suits do exist in real life. However, they don't look anything like Freeman's HEV suit.


    However, the suit Maxwell's wearing looks quite a bit like Freeman's suit. In fact, it looks more like Gordon's suit than a real hazmat suit. Hmm...

  5. Well, it doesn't really matter what they look like in real life because I'm sure there's a lot of designs, you know? I'm sure the hazmat suit in Scribblenauts looks like the orange suit on purpose for the callback.

    I don't think Jackson would have called it that if it wasn't.

  6. We must be looking at different pictures, MTGMG. The Scribblenauts Hazmat Suit looks just like a real hazmat suit. Minus the head-part.