Scribblenauts Mega Pack Review
Scribblenauts Mega Pack for Nintendo Switch
You know what we need more of? Innovative and unique games like Scribblenauts –the sort that need to be praised to encourage developers to take chances and make something different. Fortunately for us, Scribblenauts Mega Pack is out for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, giving you two of the best games in the series in one convenient package.
Originally released for the 3DS and Wii U, this package features Scribblenauts Unlimited and Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure, both now playable on current generation consoles. The elevator pitch for Scribblenauts? It’s a puzzle game wherein you have a magical notebook that spawns whatever word you write in it. It sounds like something a kid might come up with, but it works better than you’d think. The Scribblenauts games will throw problems at you that need solving: an NPC who wants to be a rock-star, for example, or helping a character get to a difficult-to-reach location. All you need to do is type in the solution.
What I find particularly endearing about these games is that they’re filled with wonder and charm and aren’t afraid to get weird. Some of the challenges you have to overcome in both of these games are bizarre and depending on your creativity, can quickly get out of control. In Scribblenauts Unlimited, the main character, Maxwell, is tasked with helping people around the world to lift a curse that’s been put on his sister, Lily, because of Maxwell’s selfishness. That’s a wonderful, thought-provoking lesson, especially for a game that is seemingly so basic, marketed towards kids.
While learning your lesson, you will be completing *a lot* of objectives and solving problems. Many times, the solution to a problem will be obvious. For instance, there’s an objective towards the beginning of the game that tasks you with helping a plant grow. Type in “water” and it will do the trick. However, there are many times when you can solve problems in various ways, and that’s what’s so fascinating and rewarding about this series. Maybe instead of watering the plant, you can just add the adjective “big” to it and still meet the qualifications. Or, maybe instead of spawning a shotgun to blow away a toxic container that needs to be disposed of, you bring in a black hole to suck it out of existence. You can get wildly creative with Scribblenauts, and a large amount of the fun comes from pushing its vocabulary to the limits.
Surprisingly, most of the words you try will actually work. Barring any licensed or graphic content, for obvious reasons, the game will recognize most of what you type into your notebook. You can even spawn in Cthulhu, for goodness sake. Cthulhu! And in the Nintendo Switch version, you can even spawn in Mario, Luigi, Link, and other popular characters from the Mushroom Kingdom.
On the Switch, you can take advantage of the handheld’s touchscreen to type in letters or use a handy letter wheel that maps different sets of letters to each button, allowing for quick access to objects. My only gripe is that the controls can sometimes be a tad finicky, particularly when selecting an item to interact with. I would often have trouble choosing the right character to talk to or object to pick up, because of the number of things on screen at a given time. Button mapping would be nice, at least to alleviate some of the frustrations of item selection. For example, one button could be used to interact with the characters and the other to interact with objects. That way, it might be easier to pinpoint the exact thing you want to interact with.
Each of the stages has objectives littered throughout that encourage you to explore and help as many people as you can. Included is a list of all the Starites to collect. These are sort of like the stars in the Mario games, that are rewarded upon completion of a level, or in this case, a task. I wish there was a little more incentive to go around and complete these tasks, though, because the Starites don’t fundamentally do anything other than let you know you completed the task.
In Unlimited, you also have access to a plethora of customizable objects in the editor mode. Here you can make almost any item you can think of and add it to your game. In this version, there’s even the inclusion to share user-created objects via online, as well as two bonus levels and a two-player mode.
Also included in this pack is the sequel, Scribblenauts Unmasked. This game builds on the foundation of its predecessor but includes literally thousands of characters from the rich DC Universe. The story revolves around Batman, Superman, and other members of the Justice League as you help save the world. Unfortunately, the plot is not as much of a life lesson as the first game, but getting to interact with some of my favorite DC characters was still fun enough.
Seriously, if you’re a DC fan, this will be a veritable treat for you, as almost every DC character is available in this version. For every recognizable hero like Green Lantern or Cyborg, there’s an obscure one like Calendar Man or Shadow Lass.
In Unmasked, you can use superpowers to your advantage, and doing so alongside your actual superhero counterparts makes for some funny moments. Giving Batman a rocket launcher to defeat the Joker, or riding Szasz like a donkey to get him inside a helicopter was wacky and added a lighthearted tone to the otherwise gritty DC Universe. In this version, there are some minor quality of life improvements, like updates to the UI to make them more streamlined, and the inclusion of two additional levels.
One minor gripe, particularly with Unmasked is that it sometimes forces you to engage in combat, but the combat system is so rudimentary, it never feels as satisfying as I’d hoped. Of course, this isn’t a combat-focused game, but simply pressing one button to attack just feels like a cheap inclusion. There are also ranged weapons, but they work just like melee. I’m not asking for a complex action game with this, but compared to the depth of the creation editor and word-play, the combat feels like a half step. It’s a small complaint and ultimately doesn’t negatively impact the overall sense of joy I had while playing Scribblenauts Mega Pack.
Playing through these games sort of brought me back to my childhood, but never made me feel like a baby or that the game was too easy. The puzzles included are sometimes challenging and require you to think outside the box, which I absolutely adore. Few games get that balance right, but Scribblenauts Mega Pack not only gets it right, it does so with flying colors. This pack has a ton of content, personality, and encourages you to experiment and explore, so I urge you to check it out, especially if you’re a creative person.
Score: 4/5 – Great
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