Final Glimpse: Ninja vs. zombie vs. keyboard cat vs. God ? FIGHT!
At this year's E3, there was one game that drew so much interest and excitement, it not only garnered a ton of ?Best of Show? awards, but elevated it to the top of many gamers' ?must-have? lists. No, it wasn't the latest graphical powerhouse FPS, epic RPG or open sandbox adventure. Instead, it was a little DS game from an even littler independent developer.
5th Cell's Scribblenauts is arguably the most highly anticipated game of the year. It is certainly the most innovative, based on a simple yet maddeningly complex concept: what if I could summon any object I could think of and interact with it realistically? It's something that should be impossible, even on the most powerful PC imaginable ? yet it appeared in full working form at E3 on the market's technologically weakest platform. Who'da thunk it?
The game's tagline is ?Write anything, solve everything? which accurately sums up what you can do. The game sounds relatively simple: you play as Maxwell, who must solve various puzzles to collect Starites. It looks and sounds like your standard run-of-the-mill 2-D platformer. But here's the cool twist: in order to solve those puzzles, Maxwell has the ability to conjure any object you can think of. For example, in order to collect a Starite stuck on top of a tree, you can write (or type) ?ladder? and poof, a ladder appears. You can then place the ladder where you wish, make Maxwell climb it and grab the Starite. Or you can write ?chainsaw? to cut down the tree, ?dynamite? to blow it up, or if you're lazy, you can write ?lumberjack? and have him do the work for you.
Or you can spawn some T-Rex-riding ninjas, robot zombies, and a cow carrying a nuclear bomb and have them duke it out. Seriously.
The game will have about 10,000 objects you can summon, each with realistic properties and physics. Chuck a toaster into water to electrify a shark. Use a jetpack to reach a high platform. Ward off vampires with garlic. Have God beat the crap out of a panda bear with a crowbar. Or destroy the world by summoning a black hole. Truly, the only limit is your own twisted imagination ? plus a few rules. You can't summon proper names, places, anything copyrighted or anything mature or vulgar (it's a family game after all). There is also a limit to the number of objects you can summon, with a handy meter letting you know how close you are to maxing out. But what you can
summon is mind-blowing: time machines that will actually transport you back and forth through time, the moon (which when placed in the sky will turn day into night) and even Internet memes like keyboard cat. Half the fun will be trying to stump the game by typing in all manner of crazy objects and seeing if they'll pop up ? and chances are, they will. Cthulhu, anyone?
While the game will give you the freedom to do whatever you want, it does have some structure. The campaign spans 220 levels across 10 worlds, and comprises various puzzle and platforming scenarios you need to solve. You will earn ollars, the game's currency, by solving the puzzles with bonuses earned for solving it within the time limit, summoning the least number of objects, not re-using objects and not using weapons.
You will also be able to use the level editor to create your own puzzles, complete with AI-tweakable characters, and share it wirelessly with friends both locally and online ? very cool.
Graphically, the game has a simple but charming hand-drawn look to it, not surprising coming from the creators of Drawn to Life. Each object looks and behaves like you would expect them to, a remarkable achievement considering each object is rendered in 3-D and given the appropriate physical properties, all while fitting within the DS's relatively tiny memory limitations. The game is clearly a technical stroke of genius and kudos to 5th Cell for pulling off the seemingly impossible.