Who said innovation in DS games was dead? [Err, you, throughout 2008 - Ed]. The shelves might be heaving with Imagine: My Pretty This and Bratty Babyz That but at least one small corner of developerland remains forever creative - so having tested the DS boundaries with games such as Drawn to Life and Lock's Quest, US studio 5th Cell is getting really wild with Scribblenauts.
Taking your stylus in hand, you have to guide character Maxwell through his side-scrolling 2D platform world in which he is collecting stars (so far, so conventional) by writing down any object you can think of on the top screen pad. It will then appear on the bottom screen for Maxwell to use to overcome whatever puzzle or obstacle he's grappling with.
Some examples suggested by the developer include a ladder, a birthday cake, dynamite, a shark, an elephant, rope, glue, an axe, a fairy princess (bait to attract a dragon, obviously)... You get the idea.
The team has apparently spent three months making a huge list of objects that you'll be able to create for Maxwell. Each object will be defined by its basic characteristics in terms of physical properties and actions that Maxwell can use it for, and you'll also be able to combine objects together to create more complex behaviours.
Of course, we have seen something like this before in Drawn to Life (you can get an idea how it worked from this video) where you could draw objects that you then used in your game. It was an interesting idea but one that didn't quite work as spectacularly as we hoped.
And the more you think about Scribblenauts, the more it becomes clear there will be three very important aspects - the sheer range of objects pre-programmed into the game, how the game 'fails' when you write something down it doesn't understand (because it surely won't contain everything), and how interesting the actual puzzles you have to solve are. If you can complete them all writing down 'gun', 'dagger', or 'bomb', we won't be impressed.
Anyhow, in the meantime, we just hope 5th Cell's artists aren't being driven mad by their task. After all, many people have tried to codify an exhaustive history of things, and not even a lifetime was enough for the Rev. Casaubon to satisfactorily complete his The Key to All Mythologies.
5th Cell is currently in negotiations for a publisher for Scribblenauts (its previous games came out via THQ) and it expects the game to be out by the end of 2009. But while you’re waiting, check out the Scribblenauts website.
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