Most puzzle games offer a limited toolset to solve increasingly complex problems. In Scribblenauts Remix, the dilemmas are relatively simple, and the only limits are your vocabulary and your imagination.
You may well recognise the name, particularly if you own a Nintendo DS. Remix is a blend of Scribblenauts and its sequel, Super Scribblenauts, which were released on the handheld to some critical acclaim but only moderate commercial success. Hopefully its generous £2.99 price point will see this ingenious concept attract a whole new audience on iOS.
Each level holds a star (or ‘starite’, as the game would have it) for protagonist Maxwell to grab, though it’s only released when you solve the problem the stage presents. You do this by spawning objects, typing their name into a dialogue box, at which point they pop into existence, ready for placement within the level.
Initially it seems all too simple: you’ll type ‘ladder’ to climb a tree, or tap in ’teacher’ and ‘desk’ to prepare a school for a new term. The problems gradually get a little trickier, and often you’ll need to combine items to help Maxwell (or another character) reach the exit. You’re also able to use adjectives, which give the objects you create a variety of properties, but some may still find it too straightforward.
But Scribblenauts Remix demands a different approach. We’re conditioned as gamers to finding the most efficient ways to solve a problem that we often forget that there are more fun ways to skin this metaphorical cat. Start piecing together more elaborate plans of action and the beauty of the central conceit begins to emerge.
We like it because you can pit robo-Satan against a golden God - and then destroy them both with a hairy, poisonous Kraken. Twi-hards might be interested to find out that our experiment to see who would triumph in a fight between Team Edward (sulky sparkly scrawny vampire) and Team Jacob (topless wooden werewolf) resulted in an overwhelming victory for cartoon R-Pattz, but we got bored of his twinkly torso and blew him up with a giant fluffy rocket-launcher. And that was all on the start screen.
Puzzles become more entertaining the further outside the box you think. Why build a bridge to cross a body of water when you can sprout wings or ride a pterodactyl? It’s undoubtedly disappointing that the game doesn’t actively encourage you to find multiple solutions like the DS games did, meaning the 40 levels - the first half of which are way too easy - are over in a flash, but there’s almost infinite replay value in returning just to see if that bizarre image in your head can be found in the game.
Protip: it usually can - assuming it’s within the bounds of human decency, at least.
With controls seemingly less finicky than its predecessors and a suite of Achievements to unlock – constructing an object with eight different adjectives is a particularly entertaining challenge – Scribblenauts Remix offers countless hours of heartily silly fun. And if you’re a parent, you may well find it a stimulating and gently educational way to keep your kids occupied…assuming they can wrestle the game off you first.
*(Clever, Conduit, Cartoonish, Creativity - in case you were wondering.)
Scribblenauts Remix costs £2.99 on the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad.