Where would the video game world be if there were no princesses to rescue? The plot has proved amazingly durable, and Scribble Hero is the latest version of it in a long line going back to Donkey Kong.
In Scribble Hero, a kid named Sketch is pursuing his beloved Dot, who gets abducted by ten evil monsters. Sketch has to fight his way through fifty levels to get her back– though since the whole game takes place within the pages of a sketchbook, we may just be participating in his active fantasy life.
There’s certainly no shortage of imagination in the game. Scribble Hero offers a huge variety of monsters, each of which has its own pattern of behavior. The most basic creatures are unidentifiable doodles and robots which march forward on a set path or pursue Sketch, but there are also UFOs, dragons, hopping cavemen and vicious centipedes. The game constantly introduces new creatures, but it does so in a way that makes it easy to figure out their patterns and deal with them.
The power-ups are an important part of your tactics. Slain monsters drop extra-life hearts, shields, coins and other useful items. You can upgrade these using in-game currency, which is easy to earn and can also be bought via in-app purchase.
You can also buy a variety of sidekicks and other useful items to address your weaknesses. There’s a zombie sidekick who can absorb missile fire, for instance, which is a handy tool for slow-dodging reviewers. Some of the items let you play the game in a totally different way. The Red Marker of Death and the Hole Punch let you put deadly obstacles on the map and establish a safe zone free of enemies. They’re expensive and don’t work against bosses, so you won’t want to use them all the time, but they’re very useful when you get into a tight spot.
Even death has its benefits in Scribble Hero. When Sketch gets killed, a tombstone pops up that serves as another deadly obstacle. (One handy trick is to get behind your own tombstone and let a pursuing enemy destroy itself running into it.) The game also reverses time, going back a few seconds and letting you play with the ghost of your previous life. You can have one or two ghosts active at any one time, and the resulting doubling or tripling of your firepower is a tremendous help for getting past bosses or other tough situations.
Prez Sez: Skool’s For Losers.
Two ghosts, dozens of monsters, and a hail of bullets on the screen might stretch the graphic capabilities of the iPad a little, and we did get some low-memory warnings while playing on a first-generation iPad. However, the game ran smoothly despite the warnings. The only problems we encountered were with the item buttons at the bottom of the screen. They’re a little hard to reach in the heat of battle, and they sometimes obscure an enemy or a reward.
Aside from that, Scribble Hero does everything right. The controls are simple, but there is a variety of strategies and the game is a blast to play. It looks like there’s still life in that princess-rescuing plot after all.