Year Made: 2009
Platforms: Android, iOS, Nintendo DS
Price: $.99 on Android or iOS
Content Areas: English, Literacy, Engineering, Science
Suggested Age Level: Elementary, Middle School
Play Length: Unlimited (more levels can be purchased)
Number of Players: Single Player
Difficulty Rating: Easy
The mere existence of the game Scribblenauts Remix is an incredible feat. The original designers literally scoured through dictionaries and encyclopedias, putting every conceivable item, being, or… noun, really, into the game itself. Their vision? What if a gamer has to solve a puzzle in a sandbox world, but they could conjure up any people, items, or beings they found necessary to reach the goal? With that concept in mind, Scribblenauts was born.
Not only does Scribblenauts Remix contain nearly every noun a person can think up, but the game actually understands how those different objects and beings would interact in the world. For instance, say the puzzle asks for the player to retrieve a girl’s cat from the roof of a house. The logical answer is to type in “ladder” and grab the kitten, but any number of strategies can be used. In one attempt, the player could have Maxwell (the game’s protagonist) summon a mouse to lure the cat down. An even more brash player could conjure up a catapult, fill it with a dog, and launch the cat’s adversary onto the roof, where the kitten would promptly scamper down to its owner.
Scribblenauts Remix presents a perfect opportunity to practice traits such as creativity, critical thinking, and imagination. The puzzles themselves are not that hard, but the personal challenge of thinking up a unique and outside-the-box solution definitely adds an element of intrigue to the game. Players also get to practice their spelling and vocabulary, with the game set to fix their errors only if they are close to the word typed to bring into the world.
The world itself is a nice complement to the silly and lighthearted gameplay. Even when calling upon monsters and mythical creatures to join the fray, the animations are comical and “attacks” are ambiguous enough to leave young players unfazed. Players can only “lose” by destroying a key element to their win condition in the puzzle or by eliminating Maxwell, but these are often self-inflicted setbacks caused by an inadvertent summoning of a bad combination of items and beings.
This game works best as an extension activity, perhaps in a station or as part of a free play opportunity. Since the teacher cannot necessarily force the words chosen upon the players, Scribblenauts does not fit directly into a specific curricular moment, but rather as a chance to expand vocabularies and cultivate the crucial skills of creativity and problem solving. Perhaps 5th Cell’s one oversight in designing the game was a clear storyline, but with the player’s ability to send literally anything into each level, it is no wonder the company found it difficult to create a cohesive narrative to accompany Maxwell on his misadventures.
In addition to the lack of storytelling elements, some controls and gameplay actions can feel a bit cumbersome. To interact with objects, clicking on them brings up a list of possible actions, and sometimes getting multiple options to play nicely and work together is a challenge. Some players will find combining objects to create more complex solutions to puzzles to be more cumbersome than the trouble is worth, but some forgiveness must be given for the sheer scope of the game’s vocabulary.
Scribblenauts Remix is a celebration of those rebellious math-test doodlers, “why not” daydreamers, and rambling storytellers who think every story gets better when the author drops a dragon into the situation for no real reason. Whether used in a classroom or enjoyed on one’s own time, Scribblenauts Remix believes, quite literally, that if a player can dream it, they can do it.
Note: There are a few different versions of Scribblenauts available, including the original Scribblenauts and Super Scribblenauts for Nintendo DS and Scribblenauts Unlimited for Wii U, PC and Nintendo 3DS. The gameplay for the various versions is quite similar to Scribblenauts Remix.
Educational Rating: 6/8
(Classroom Tech Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension)
Overall Rating: 7/8
(Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control)
Buy Here (Apple)
Buy Here (Android)