Thursday, July 30, 2009

Even MORE Australian Kotaku impressions: Now with 100% less internet memes

I'm pleasantly surprised. Yesterday I made the comment that I was getting a bit tired of impressions and previews simply listing off a bunch of words they used without actually talking about any of the gameplay or puzzles. Kotaku proves how awesome they are by giving us both. You can read that "Sandbox mode" article here, and grab the new "Puzzle mode" article here.

The highlights!

One of the first I tried was set in a one-room house during a kids birthday party. A pinata hangs in the middle of the room and it’s your task to help the birthday boy break it. The obvious solution would be to give the boy (or yourself) some sort of stick or bat and smash the pinata. Too obvious, I thought.

So I typed in “Trebuchet”.

Already I love this preview, hehe. It's refreshing to see a journalist who realizes the traditional solution is boring and no one wants to read about it. So he decides to solve it with a bit of overkill, and there's nothing wrong with that.

He does drop an interesting tidbit, though. It would seem a level auto-restarts when you complete it, apparently to encourage creativity by solving it a different way immediately (while it's fresh in your head?). Neat. I thought I had noticed that in some videos but it didn't seem too obvious. This game definitely knows its own replay value.

A second puzzle I played featured an island on which my avatar and a cat were located. To the left, three swans swam in the water, while to the right, across a similar stretch of water, an ugly duckling perched at the top of a cliff. A tunnel ran underneath the island to connect the two bodies of water. My goal: to reunite the ugly duckling with the swans… without harming the cat.

A new level, though it has elements of some we already know. Though it isn't directly mentioned I assume the cat can attack the swans/duckling, meaning you have to find a way to go around it. WITHOUT killing the poor kitty, you sadist freaks!

The level serves a similar design as the "Over, Through, Under" level in the E3 build, as it basically gives you the ability the ability to fly over the cat, somehow make it through the island while trapping the cat in some way, or going under the island with the tunnel. This level also shows that some level design will stop "obvious" solutions. A submarine, for example, was too big to fit through the hole in the bottom, meaning you had to find some other means of traveling underwater.

It’s important to emphasise that: this is a game all about creativity and experimentation. As a puzzle game it doesn’t seem too taxing, and in most cases, an easy solution will immediately spring to mind. You could probably play through much of the game, sticking to a conservative set of objects and completing each task in the most straightforward manner. But you’d be doing the game a disservice.

Ah yes, the common theme throughout this entire preview. He gets it, and I hope others do as well. I think a lot of people worry Scribblenauts might not be that difficult. And perhaps it won't be.

But who cares?

Any game is easy if you try to brute force your way through it. Level to 100 in the first dungeon of an RPG, or run in guns blazing in a stealth game. Yeah, you could probably cheese your way to victory, but why would you? Scribblenauts is about making the game your own. You make it as difficult or easy as you want. Feel like being boring? Yeah ok, you can, sure. But if you find the boring way...well, let's not mince words, if you find the boring way boring, then why the hell would you do it?

Scribblenauts is a surprisingly demanding game. Unlike a lot of contemporary titles, it doesn’t spoonfeed the player. It gives you all the tools you need, but it requires you to generate the ideas to make all those tools work in combination. It demands imagination. The real joy is in asking “what if…?” at every opportunity and then grinning like a fool as the game (most of the time) indulges your whimsical nature.

The above point is only hammered home here. The game will give you a minor hint to solve a level, perhaps a reminder you have tens of thousands of objects at your disposal, then whispers, "Have fun." That's it. Some people might find this overwhelming, others might find it lacking in direction. But at the end of the day it just emphasizes that those who WANT to enjoy Scribblenauts will indeed have a blast with it.


  1. Has it been confirmed yet if there were more than 1 available saved games? I already know my bros gonna want a file.

  2. heres my solution to the island puzzle. Put duck in submarine, i says we can't fit a sub under the island, but heres why scribble is awesome. Summon a shrink ray, shrink the sub with duck in it, send it under water.

    Alternatively,the duck may not go into the sub and allow you to control, so max gets in sub, shrink it. summon lasso, lasso duck, glue other end to sub. Maybe give duck an oxygen tank so it doesn't suffocate, bring it under in tow

  3. I like your shrinking idea. Nice touch.

    Anon: It's been confirmed by Jackson there will be two save slots.

  4. here is my solution i summon an anvil, then some glue. then i glue the cat to the anvil. then i will use a tractor beam to suck the duck down to me, then we will stroll to the other side of the island an return the duckling

  5. Grab the duckling with a "grappling hook". Trap the cat in a "cage". Hop over the cage and return the duckling. (use a "ramp" to get atop the cage if necessary)

    Tie a "rope" to a "helicopter". Tie the other end to the cat's island, and lift it out of the water. Jump out (onto cliff), grab duckling, return. (I somehow suspect that this won't work, unfortunately. If so, use a pterodactyl instead of helicopter, and/or tie the rope to the cat instead.)

    Give the cat a "hoverboard". Push it out into the water. Use "fighterjet" to reach duckling, and jump down past the hovering cat. Swim to victory.