Monday, July 22, 2013

Scribblenauts Unlimited

I've always wanted to play a Scribblenauts game ever since Andrew talked about the first one a few years ago. So when I saw it on sale on Steam, and with cards to boot, I gave this version a shot. It's a cute little game that does what it sets out to do pretty well. You encounter a quest and then you have to type in a noun to create that thing. Or you type in an adjective to modify an existing object. Make yourself smaller to fit into a hole, or make wings for yourself so you can fly, that sort of thing. I keep hearing about people typing in crazy random things to beat the quests but I found that wasn't the sort of thing I was really good at doing. Mostly I solved the puzzles with bacon, bacon grease, or a person that could do it for me. Why figure out how to fix a car when I can just summon a mechanic out of thin air? I learned the hard way that when a vampire asks for help in the desert it isn't useful to summon a vampire slayer. Turns out that just results in a dead vampire.

The very first random quest I ran into was a cool dude on the street who was bored and wanted me to entertain him. I couldn't figure out a way to do it. He wasn't impressed with a deck of cards, or with fireworks, or with a drum set, or with a gazebo. Eventually I gave up. I don't understand normal people enough to know how to entertain them I guess. 8(

One of the side quests in the game is to acquire different avatars. Help the ninja brother in the family out and then you can play as a ninja instead of the boring default guy. Or a pirate. Or a nerd. Or a really little kid. The family apparently has 42 kids, so that's a lot of potentially cool avatars. You start with one, and one of the kids has been cursed (the main quest of the game is to save her), and there are 40 others you can unlock. The absolutely terrible part of this is 41 of the 42 kids in this family are male. There's one female. She's the cursed one. So with 41 possible avatars you can use, not a single one of them is female. I don't know how this can happen. Why would you alienate some of your audience by excluding all female avatars? Even if they went full blown stereotypes and only gave you things like a princess and a cheerleader that feels like it would have been better than none at all. But I really don't see why the ninja couldn't have been female. Or why there couldn't have been two ninjas.

I ended up playing the game for 4 hours (enough time to get all my Steam cards) but I don't know that I'll be going back. I liked the novelty of typing things in and seeing it appear, but I'm not terribly good at having fun with the game. I didn't like the interface much (I had to click somewhere in order to start typing... I should just be able to use the keyboard the whole time!) And I really didn't like the gender split. I tend to play female characters when given the chance, and it was really annoying that with 41 options they didn't stick even one in for me.

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