Updated: Scribblenauts Remix Review

Scribblenauts Remix recently saw two updates bringing a new sandbox skin and speech-to-text integration for iPhone 4S users. Do these inclusions do enough to bump this puzzler up to Must Have status?

The new speech-to-text for iPhone 4S owners works extremely well. However, it doesn’t add anything to the game and before long we found ourselves converting back to typing. It should also be said that we had to delete and reinstall the game for this feature to work properly.

They’ve also added a Christmas skin for the sandbox level. Unfortunately, that’s all it is: a skin. We hoped that it would have some differences, as the DS version of Scribblenauts offered multiple sandbox levels and this feels like a lost opportunity.

We’re happy to see some level of post-launch support for this game, but we hope the developers bring out some substantial content in the future. We’d be happy to pay for extra levels, especially if they were iOS exclusive. Otherwise, if you’ve been eyeing this game but haven’t yet pulled the trigger, there hasn’t been a better time than now, as it’s currently discounted to $.99 for the holidays.

Since we last updated our review, Scribblenauts Remix has had multiple content updates, offering a new sandbox skin for Valentine’s Day and a DLC pack. Should you spend a dollar on this new content, and does it bump this DS classic into Must Have range?

The DLC pack costs $.99 for 20 levels, all of which are taken from the two DS games, plus a new sandbox. The 20 levels chosen are mostly unimaginative. For example, one puts you on the pitching mound across from a baseball player and umpire with the direction of “play ball.” Another requires you to rescue a cat from the top of a house.

Other levels boil down to “give this person an object they would like” or “use random objects to press buttons”. One special level of note is a homage to Duck Hunt, where you can equip a weapon to kill the ducks, but it’s still far too easy.

The best part of the DLC pack is the new sandbox stage. Unlike the Christmas and Valentine’s Day skins, this stage features a completely new set-up made to look like a medieval castle. As part of the theme, a couple of characters and objects are preset into the level, but you can remove them if you choose. We hope the developers create more of these sandboxes in the future instead of useless skins.

Unless you absolutely must have more Scribblenauts, there are better ways to spend a dollar on the App Store. We know that 5th Cell has better content up their sleeves, so their selection left us a bit puzzled. We’d also prefer original levels if they’re charging for DLC packs. For now, Scribblenauts Remix still falls short of our top marks.

If you’ve followed DS gaming, chances are you’re at least familiar with Scribblenauts. 5th Cell’s ‘write anything’ concept ending up spawning two games that garnered quite a loyal following. Scribblenauts Remix serves as a ‘greatest hits’ for the series, and newcomers shouldn’t think twice about purchasing it.

Each level in Scribblenauts Remix requires you to collect the “starite” that’s placed in each level. The gameplay is super-intuitive: almost any object you can think of can be brought into the game just by writing the name of it in your character’s notebook. You can even use adjectives, so the possibilities for solving the levels are endless. The in-game dictionary is deep enough that, bar copyrighted material, almost anything you think of can be created. It’s worth noting that the time machine’s functionality has been removed from the game.

Just like real life.

The levels 5th Cell has pulled from previous games (mostly Super Scribblenauts) tend to be on the easier side, and some of the better puzzles are omitted. However, that doesn’t mean that what’s here isn’t fun to work through. There are even 10 iOS-exclusive levels available, bringing the level count to 50. While this is significantly fewer levels than in the DS titles, it’s a fair offering for the asking price. There’s also a sandbox mode, where you can write in anything you want just to play with the game’s extremely clever and impressive mechanics.

We would have liked to have seen the level editor and gold star challenge system from the previous games brought over into the iOS version, but they didn’t make the cut. This exclusion takes away much of the replay value of the original games. Here, you’ll blast through the puzzles in about two hours.

Demon in the classroom.

The clunky controls for Maxwell, the chicken-haired protagonist, have always been a point of contention in Scribblenauts games, and it’s no different on iOS. Touch-based movement works well, and typing on the iOS keyboard is better than the DS touchscreen, but the developers removed your ability to make Maxwell jump. This omission can be problematic at times, but it’s never game breaking.

Scribblenauts Remix uses iCloud to sync game data between your iPhone and iPad instantly. This is a welcome feature that we hope becomes the standard for all universal apps. GameCenter implementation tracks achievements and leaderboards.

While there may not be much worth seeing for returning scribblenauts, newcomers should experience Scribblenauts at least once and, for the relatively low point of entry, there’s no good reason not to.

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