Comic for Thursday, Nov 5, 2009


Posted November 5, 2009 at 1:00 am

There's no doubt about it; Scribblenauts is an incredibly innovative game. In order to solve puzzles, you write words and, assuming it's been programmed into the game, whatever you wrote appears. For example, you can write "knight" and a knight will appear, sword in hand. The number of different words the game recognizes number in thousands.

Nonetheless, I found myself getting bored with this game. For everything it has going for it, moving the character around is awkward, and most of the things I'd like to be able to do simply aren't possible. I can imagine it being a fun diversion on occasion, but I seem to have much more fun with simple paper and pencils. For one thing, if I draw a badger, it is ferocious.

One issue I have with the game is that while you can write a huge variety of words and get those things to appear, there often seems to be little incentive to get overly specific. Take, for example, writing "cheerleader". Given the graphics, expecting a sexy blond woman with pompoms to appear would be nothing if not unreasonably optimistic, but there could at least be something that defines her as a cheerleader beyond wearing what might be a skirt.

I would've liked to have seen some sort of gameplay benefit, such as cheering on other characters to make them do whatever they're doing faster, or drawing the attention of hostiles away from others. The usefulness of such abilities would be limited, but at least it would feel like actually summoning a cheerleader and not someone simply dressed like one.

Actually, the ability to become the instant target of hostiles would be very useful. Sarah's predicament in the comic is based on an actual puzzle, and an issue I ran into was the dinosaur destroying its own egg while fighting off whatever I threw at it. There were other solutions, but I ultimately wanted to safely lure it away from its egg. A cheering cheerleader drawing too much attention to herself could have been ideal, if not a bit morbid.

Ultimately, I guess that's my whole point right there. The game manages to feel like it limits your options in spite of how many thousands of options it gives you. What you can actually do is more dependent on the creators' imagination than your own. I think I'll be sticking with pencil and paper.