30 January 2010

Scribblenauts - Nintendo DS


When I was a kid I spent a lot of time engaged in one of the greatest debates in all of childhood: Who would win in a fight?
Superman or The Hulk?
The Hulk.
Godzilla or a T-Rex?
Godzilla
My dad or your dad?
My dad.
You get the idea. My next-door-neighbor and I would waste summer afternoons in our Baltimore suburb playing this silly game before we got bored and, of course, got into mischief. (Later in life I killed some time by throwing a tub of BBQ sauce at some dude's garage. I'm ashamed to say how old I was at the time. Let's just say I almost missed the prom because I was grounded.)
Perhaps kids of this generation will be spared the shame of youth with Scribblenauts, a game that lets you do almost anything in its virtual world. If you want to see if God is more powerful than Godzilla, go for it. If you want to see if a vampire can beat a wolfman, have at it. This is not the purpose of the game, however, but it's a plus.
The goal of this ingenious game is simple: Help Maxwell (you) solve challenge after challenge in a game world that you control. The trick here is that you choose what to put in the game world to help complete each task. For instance, let’s say there is a challenge in which you have to rescue a kitten from a tree. Using the Nintendo DS touch screen to insert objects into the game world, you could arm yourself with a hatchet and chop the tree down. Or you could write in a fireman and let him do the work for you. Or you could get a little nasty and use a slingshot to shoot the cat out of the tree (although points are awarded for avoiding violence).
The challenges in Scribblenauts range from the simple cat-caught-in-tree example to helping sea captains avoid ice bergs.
If you can think it, you can probably write it into the game world. The game recognizes some 10,000 words and translates them into characters and objects. And if you don’t feel like a challenge, you can simply write goofy stuff into the game world and see how they interact. I recommend the following: God and Satan; a vampire and garlic; a cop and a crook; Bigfoot and a dragon.
This is easily one of the best games I’ve played on my DS. If I would have had a game like this when I was young, perhaps I wouldn't have been so easily distracted and some poor man's garage door wouldn't smell like ribs.
By Victor Paul Alvarez
valvarez@eastbaynewspapers.com

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