Why I'm so excited for Scribblenauts, when Drawn to Life was so bad

Scribblenauts Cover

Over a year ago, I reviewed 5TH Cell's first Nintendo DS game, Drawn to Life. I hated it. It featured a crappy story piled on to a crappy platformer and topped off with the most laugh-out-loud ridiculous ending I've seen since Giga Wing 2. So why am I so excited for 5TH Cell's latest? Because it seems like everything Drawn to Life was not.

That game would be Scribblenauts. You've probably heard of it by now since the post E3 media blitz has thrown every award possible at this game. Of course, someone like me isn't allowed into E3, so I can simply just imagine how to play this game. But from videos I've seen and articles I've read, it would appear that 5TH Cell is on the right track. No story, little to no platforming, and no corny musical ending (well, that could still happen for all I know).

Scribblenauts is a puzzle game where anything goes. The goal is to help your character collect Starites, little objects scattered about and out of reach. To reach them, you will need to summon objects into the level by writing their name. For example (in the embedded video), a Starite may be stuck in a tree and you can simply write "ladder" and climb to the top of the tree, or summon a football to toss at the Starite knocking it out, or even create a beaver which will chop down the tree knocking the Starite to the ground. This kind of gameplay is known as emergent gameplay, where the player solves puzzles in ways unique and unexpected not thought up by the developer but encouraged through the game design.

The game's word list supposedly numbers in the tens of thousands and the development team has said they've had people working for months on adding more and more nouns to the game's dictionary. This doesn't mean they're simply drawing item after item, but each object also has attributes, whether it can be thrown or eat trees or be climbed. I'm impressed by the sheer simplicity of it all and also the scope of the game.

And this is why I have high hopes for the game. Instead of focusing on gimmicky stuff like drawing your own character (which 90% of the people will suck at anyway), 5TH Cell is instead focusing on unique gameplay. Drawn to Life was also riddled with a story that simply bogged it down too much, rumor has it Scribblenauts has very little story, I'd prefer none. And finally, Scribblenauts is not a platformer! Hopefully this will eliminate all the problems Drawn to Life had with collision detection and generally gameplay crappiness.

So here's to Scribblenauts, due in September. Let's hope 5TH Cell pulls it off this time.

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