*Let me begin by stating, this is not a paid review. Nobody’s asking me to write this, and I’m not receiving anything in return. I just found something awesome and wanted to tell you about what I found. That is all…
For years I’ve heard amazing things about a Nintendo DS game called “Scribblenauts,” where you can create a cartoon version of basically anything you can think of to solve puzzles. I could never bring myself to spend $30 on this game, but after logging onto the app store the other day with some iTunes points burning a hole in my pocket for months, I found Scribblenauts Remix for $4.99 and bought it immediately. While the game seems relatively short, it is pure genius in a digital bottle (hmm… I might have to try that: “Digital Genius Potion”).
Basically you’re given a simple task, such as “Help this man get a haircut.” You open up a journal and type in any object. The only restrictions are that it has to be an object and names of people, places, or brands don’t count. So naturally, I ask myself “What kind of crazy thing can I cut a guy’s hair with…. hmm… GOT IT!”.
Sure enough, the game spawns a random chainsaw and I drag it on top of the hairstylist. Next I tap the hairstylist and then the man on the chair. Success! The man hops off with a smiley face showing in the speech bubble and short hair on his head. I am awesome. I’m the all-powerful narrator with god-like cartoon powers and let’s face it—who doesn’t want THAT?!
I found myself taking creative shortcuts. Save mom and her child from the zombie horde? No problem: Wall. Dynamite. Flame. Need to dig a hole & get back out? Forget taking the time to build a shovel & a ladder: “Flying Shovel.” Need to get rid of the dragon? Nuclear Bomb. Gun. WHOOPS! That’s right, I actually ended the world (and got an achievement for it).
Now let me clarify, this game isn’t a violent one. I just let my imagination get carried away, and the fact that it lets me do that in problem solving everyday scenarios is awesome! Trying to think “How can I do ____ with the tools at hand?” is what makes invention possible, and most of the greatest things (or at least the most entertaining) come from people who make us think, “That’ll never work” or “That’s ridiculous.” It’s like a cartoon version of Mythbusters without the need for a hazmat team on deck.
Last night, I sat down with my two-year old son on my lap and showed him a world where everyone can ride dragons, alligators, and dinosaurs. A place where robots are real, unicorns exist, and he can make make anything. He sat there watching, touching, interacting, smiling, and giggling (if he knew how to read & write, he would have been creating too; I can’t wait to see how excited he becomes about learning new words so he can try making them in Scribblenauts). When we were done, he promptly went over to his train table, picked-up his Zoo Duplos, and had the zoo keeper riding the lion’s back as he recreated the world on his own.
Some of the unexpected highlights I ran into with this game:
- Typed “Alien Space Ship” thinking I would get a UFO. Ended up with a green viking ship covered in yellow spots.
- In trying to get the sci-fi achievement I created an asteroid. When I set it on the ground, there was a sudden massive explosion and the world had ended… again.
- Afraid that my jetpack wasn’t going to be strong enough to carry me & a large object, I deleted it and typed, “Super Jet Pack”. Everything appeared normal, until I equipped it. Suddenly a polka-dotted bathtub with wings appeared and was flying around. Apparently the ability to spawn flying bathtubs makes you super.
- Needed to put a an object in a gift box for a person who likes music. I typed “Boom Box.” I’d created one before, & thought nothing of it. As I put it down to grab something else, the boom box touched the person’s house—AND BLEW IT UP! The game apparently takes those adjectives seriously.
And last, but not least:
- After typing “Pregnant Woman” (while showing off the game to my wife who’s a labor & delivery nurse) I was a bit disappointed that they just showed a regular woman. I was hoping for at least a basketball shaped belly or something. I was about to toss her & move on when a Mini-mom popped out and started walking around next to her. My wife & I were nearly in tears we started laughing so hard.
I highly recommend this game. You can get to it from the app store for both iPhone & iPad. Yeah, it was shorter than I wanted, but all good things must come to an end. I plowed through it in just a couple days without ever really devoting any time to it—but I find myself opening it up again & again just to type stuff in and see what happens.