Anyone who watches my YouTube channel will quickly realise I love a mini-game collection done well. Scribblenauts as a series has always been built around customisation and choosing objects to place in a world of creation to solve puzzles. The merging of this into mini-games and a Mario Party style board game sounds like it could provide a ton of fun. Sadly, Scribblenauts Showdown doesn’t have the scope to pull it off.
Let’s start with what the game gets right – customisation. You can type in and produce hundreds of objects to use in the 25 mini-games and eight 2D platform-style levels. Want to eat a brick? Go for it! A pig? sure! A nun? Ok then… It is great to see so much imagination is there. You can build your characters like a Wii Mii by earning stars through completing games and so you can change hair, clothes and accessories too. I just wish this had extended out to the actual game itself.
Of the 25 minigames, 10 are actually microgames and are over in a matter of seconds. Almost all of them involve wiggling a stick, pressing some buttons in time or using the motion controls – which thankfully handle really predictably and nicely. They range from races to eating contests to swingball and they are entertaining for the five minutes it takes to get through them all. The other 15 minigames are then just longer versions of the same thing. There’s a really poor Dance Dance Revolution clone where the timing doesn’t match the arrows. There’s a clunky flappy birds clone, an asteroid collecting one and a great castle wars trebuchet launcher game too. The genius is that the custom object you bring in is always integrated into the game perfectly and sometimes can change your stats. The downside is that you’ll see all the games so quickly, and they are all done usually in 20 seconds that boredom will set in quickly. The best minigames collection like Bishi Bashi, Mario Party, Muppets Monster Cruise and so on all had a ton of games that really changed the mechanics of what you do, added some charm or they had some hidden depth which meant you could have some skill involved. Here it just feels empty from start to end.
The games are wrapped up in a board game where you’re given cards that can move your character towards the goal, or hinder the other players. In truth, it just prolongs an empty experience and all too often the game brings you all back to the same spot so it feels pointless trying to be tactical here. Outside of this, there are eight co-op or single-player levels you can take on which are more aligned to the usual Scribblenauts experience but even these feel a bit half-baked.
Short, lacking direction and feeling like it needed at least double its content in playable games - Scribblenauts Showdown is entertaining for a short 20 minutes or so before you've seen and done everything. You won't return back often - but I do like the idea and mash-up of genre and franchise as something that has potential.
Great use of the Scribblenauts objects in games mode.
Local multiplayer + customisation options does = laughs
Some entertaining mini-games and rip-offs for a short while...
...but those games have zero depth and get old very fast.
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