Reader Review: Scribblenauts

Reader Review: Scribblenauts

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Steven does, as he writes obscenities in vain.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by Steven Bogos. If you’ve played Scribblenauts, or just want to ask Steven more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Scribblenauts (DS)

Write anything, solve everything is the slogan of 5th Cell’s puzzler Scribblenauts, which puts you in the shoes of Maxwell, a man with a magic pencil that makes anything he writes appear. But does this ambitious little game have the ‘write stuff,’ or is it one better left on the drawing board?


Write anything, well, almost anything: The most impressive feature of Scribblenauts is its vast library of words, which is rumoured to be well over 20,000. As well as all of the standard fare you’d expect to see, it has a huge variety of oddities, memes and pop culture references, such as the giant enemy crab, keyboard cat and vampire hunters.

Choose your warrior! One of the most entertaining aspects of the game is to forsake the puzzles and simply pit creations against each other in vicious death matches. Could Einstein on a velociraptor with a laser pistol beat Rick Astley in a hover tank? Now you can find out!


Concept not completion: Everything about Scribblenauts screamed ‘unfinished tech demo’ to me. First off, there’s no story. Unlike other puzzlers such as Layton, or Puzzle Quest, Maxwell simply goes from place to place doing chores for random strangers.

Control Freak:
There’s no two ways about this one, the touch screen controls in Scribblenauts are horrid. More often than not you will send Maxwell face first into a wall of spikes, as you furiously attempt to interact with a smaller object.

Quantity over Quality: The interactions between many summoned objects are very basic, and often broken. Some good examples were when I couldn’t put a baby in a baby carriage, or attach a horse to a chariot.

Scribblenauts is something worth checking out, it’s fresh and exciting, something hard to come by in the overcrowded DS market of horrible games spelled with inexplicable ‘Z’s’. However, once the novelty wears off, it makes for a game that’s better rented or borrowed.

Reviewed by: Steven Bogos

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 300 words – yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


  • I’m not sold on the ‘unfinished tech demo’ bit. Sure the game could have shuffled the missions so you had to do them one after the other, and written some filler as a story (collecting stars ala Mario 64?) although I feel this would have rubbed off some of the charm.

    The controls are the major downfall.

    Having said that, still feel this game is a must have for anyone with an iota of creativity.

  • Agreed, it is fun to try and come up with new and creative ways to try and solve puzzles.

    The problem is, the more creative you try to be, the more the limited item interactions becomes apparent.

    For example, one level asked me to do two things to ‘celebrate the newleyweds’. I noticed that there was a white car there, presumably for the newleyweds to leave in, and thought it appropriate to tie some cans to the back of the car. Unfortunately, the game didn’t credit this. Neither did it my second suggestion of summoning a jazz band. Or my third of giving them a bread maker…

  • I agree with the above review in most points- except I think it is still worth a purchase. It is not often that I wake at 2:00 a.m. to try something out I had just thought/dreamt . Scribblenauts has me doing this. Plus, it is a great game to pull out at the pub.

  • I think it’s great. The controls could’ve been better but I’m still enjoying it. And being a little stumped by some of the levels 🙂

    ps. I got mine through play-asia – yay for region-free games!

  • Aus version has less content than American one?

    Playing on my friend’s, who got a copy of the Aus/Pal version, comparing it to my own ntsc version.

    First off, a couple of things that i noted, when you type in Cage in the NTSC version, it comes up with
    Did you mean?
    Cage (bird)
    Cage (container)

    Whereas in the aus/pal version it says
    Did you mean?
    Cage (container)
    Cage (container)

    Another difference i have noted is that when you type in wormhole in the ntsc version, it gives you this wormhole that spawns a demon/alien thingy, but when u type it in the aus/pal version, it simply has the same effect as black hole

    Anyone else see things like this? Makes you feel a bit cheated for having to WAIT LONGER for a version that is SHODDIER 🙁

    • I can’t really comment on the black hole/wormhole issue (although I know that typing ‘portal’ will spawn what the US version called a ‘wormhole’), but I’ve noticed that when the game suggests multiple options that are both of the same property(‘container’, in the case you mention), both objects are actually different, but happen to have the same property.

      I just went and tested the word ‘cage’ on my PAL version, and the first option spawned the bird cage, whereas the second spawns a larger cage (not unlike you would have a zoo animal in). It seems that with the PAL version, they have decided to make all object’s names reflect the object’s property, even if it means that there happens to be duplicate names occasionally.

      Besides, you can just type ‘bird cage’ to spawn one straight away if you want to skip the step of having to select it from the menu.

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