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Video Game of the Week – Scribblenauts

When Scribblenauts was previewed at E3 Expo earlier this year, it was an instant hit, winning severable Best of Show awards and building great excitement for its official release, which was September 15th for North America.

Most of the excitement was for the Google-like ambition of the developers, 5th Cell. Here was a puzzle video game that would allow you to bring up virtually any object you can think of to help solve the problem on hand. Yes, that's any object you can think of! (With a few exceptions like trademarked goods, alcohol or drugs, and certain parts of the anatomy!)

Scribblenauts is a side-scrolling game. You control a character called Maxwell, who must collect objects called Starites to complete each level. Need a weapon to help Maxwell ward off a threat? Just write it in with the DS stylus and up it pops. Want a car to get out of town fast? No problem: just type it in and it will appear.

Not only does Scribblenauts deliver on its promise to come up with any object, but each object that is introduced to the game comes with the correct behavioral patterns attached. If it's an animal, it will behave like an animal; if it's a vehicle, then you can ride it; if it's food, you can eat it.

As for the actual gameplay, Scribblenauts is segmented into 220 levels over 10 themed areas, each of which has a 1-4 star ranking based on its level of difficulty. There are two types of levels – puzzle and action levels. Puzzle levels are real-life situations, where the player must use objects to solve a problem and move on. Action levels require you to help Maxwell escape jams and work his way around traps. Players are awarded "merits" for completing a level and gold stars for successfully negotiating additional "challenges".

Despite the ground-breaking innovation of Scribblenauts, there are some frustrating response and control problems when you try to move Maxwell around and generally get him to do what you want him to do. Although the game has been well-received and is still riding on the coattails of its ambition, it could be that we might have to wait for console versions or Scribblenauts 2 for the game to fully deliver on its early promise.

Scribblenauts is rated E10+ for the depiction of cartoon violence and comic mischief. 

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Platforms: Nintendo DS
Genre: Puzzle Action
RRP: $29.99
ESRB Rating: "E10+" for age 10 or older

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