When the original Scribblenauts was released, me, my friends, and even some of my family were immediately hooked as it made you think all the time in order to solve random puzzles and problems you came across. Need to cross a giant hole? Type in the word “Bridge” and a bridge appears. Or you can type in “Log” and link some together. It’s examples like this that made it unique fun for everyone. Now we have a mini-game version with Scribblenauts Showdown that sadly drops the ball a little, but can still be great fun when played with friends.
It’s sad to see original developer 5th Cell leave this franchise to be replaced with Shiver Entertainment, and it’s most likely one of the reasons why this title isn’t as good as the previous games. While the goal is still to solve problems with thinking up objects and collecting “Starites” as you go, the main feature of this entry is playing minigames with others or against the computer. There’s Showdown mode which is the main way to play in which you and three other players are placed on a board game-like map and are given random cards that will either move you ahead, bring up random game challenges, steal other players’ cards, and more as you do your best to be the winner in the end.
The minigames can be hit or miss with most being the latter, but there are some fun ones such as one where you and other players are racing and you have to think fast and come up with words using a random letter the game throws at you to make you go faster. For example, if they place the letter W, you can spell Wagon or Whale, and such. Then there’s the not so fun games where you just repeatedly mash buttons or use wonky controls that tend to fight you as you attempt to play. Another off thing about the controls is the typing part that has the alphabet divided among several circles you choose from with the left analog stick which in turn makes four letters appear which match the face buttons on your controller. I understand what they were doing as it does make typing words a bit faster once you’ve got it down pact, and thankfully it makes a list of words appear to choose from similar to web searching when you type in a few letters, but it still takes a bit of getting used to.
There’s some other modes that make up for the Showdown mode, such as Versus that lets you choose which games to play against others, and lastly there’s a Sandbox mode that lets you roam around collecting Starites and solving random problems you come across. The only bad thing about this mode is that you’ll be straining your brain trying to make sense of the clues animals and people are giving you to solve their problem, and there’s not much to come back to once you’ve cleared this mode. At least the game looks and sounds a lot like the previous ones, as cutesy cartoon-like artwork fills the screen with some upbeat tunes keeping your ears happy as you play. It would’ve been nice if there was online multiplayer, as you’d think that would be standard on a “party” title, but sadly it’s just limited to offline/local.
With a few touches, Scribblenauts Showdown could easily be one of the best and most fun multiplayer games out there. But as it is, there’s still some fun to be had when playing with friends, though just not as much as it could be. You’re likely better off playing the original Scribblenauts or even the superior Scribblenauts Unlimited, but if you have some buddies that can make the best out of anything, then a friendly showdown just might be in order.