Here's a super rushed post for you because I spent about an hour today working on a paper for class and I still have reading to do and my brain kind of feels like one's legs might after running a marathon:
Some of you are nerds like me and already know this, but there's probably a huge chunk of you guys who aren't aware: the video game industry is in kind of a difficult place these days. We're getting to a point where the usual way of selling new games and systems - i.e. boosting the tech specs and making games look better - isn't having the same sort of effect that it used to. Thus game makers these days are pushing themselves to try new things; hence the popularity of stuff like tilt-based games on the iPhone, the Rock Band games, and the Nintendo Wii.
This is where Scribblenauts comes in. The game was shown off at E3 (sort of like the World's Fair for videogames) not too long ago and was a surprise hit. Like the three things I listed above it's not graphically impressive; instead its selling point was some really innovative gameplay. Here was Scribblenauts' promise: think of a noun - any noun - and write it on the touchscreen. Boom: said noun appears onscreen.
It sounds awesome in concept, but the big question is: does it actually work? I'm happy to say yes, yes it does. According to some enterprising players there are over 22,000 words one can write down in the game and use to help them solve various puzzles. The vocabulary is huge, folks. Interesting objects I've managed to come across include:
- black hole
- time machine
- keyboard cat (seriously)
among many others. But there's something even more impressive than the vocabulary: the fact that all of these objects interact with one another in really amazing of-course-that-should happen sort of ways. I mean, there are some bog standard interactions that take place - write "dog" and "cat" and you can bet your bottom that the prior will chase the latter - but some are truly remarkable or particularly clever/hilarious. For instance: in one level your objective is to "Give Santa something that will make him happy." Cookie works - as does present, reindeer, Mrs. Claus or (don't take this the wrong way) child. Or also maybe the one time when I wrote "God" and "philosopher" only to find the philosopher was scared shitless by God.
Of course there are flaws, though. The controls can be a little wonky every here and there; you control your main avatar, Maxwell, via the touch screen, which just so happens to also be the way that you interact with objects onscreen. So occasionally when you're just trying to tap on, say, a doughnut, Maxwell might think that you want him to go to where you just tapped on the screen and thus he'll fall to his doom. Also kind of a bummer is the fact that interacting with humanoid objects isn't really an option. It's too bad that, despite the fact that objects interact so impressively with one another, they're usually more or less apathetic to your presence.
But I'm super happy to say that Scribblenauts works and it works damn well. 5th Cell, the developers of the game, deserve to be commended for even trying to make this game, and they deserve ten times the more congratulations for actually making it work.