Brandon Boyer

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Developer 5th Cell quickly established themselves at the vanguard of realizing the DS’s potential with their 2007 platformer Drawn To Life (and it’s Spongebob-licensed followup), which gave players the ability to draw and customize nearly all of the game’s assets — its main character, weapons, enemies, the world itself. That was followed on by the more traditional Lock’s Quest, a Tower Defense clone that, even if more traditional, was at least smartly timed with the boom of the genre across all platforms.

Now, IGN has revealed their latest game, Scribblenauts, with a premise so audacious it’ll be nearly impossible to follow on with execution that won’t end up falling short for someone. In it, you guide Maxwell on a quest to collect Starites by writing in the name of an object to help solve a puzzle with, and — as the IGN interview repeatedly italicizes — that object could be anything. As in the trailer above, a Starite stuck in a tree can be reached via ladder, knocked down with a football, or, of course, by conjuring a beaver to saw through the trunk.

As creative director Jeremiah Slaczka explains, the studio’s essentially been mapping out a spreadsheet of “everything” for months and firing off quick-drawn assets for each, along with how their properties affect each other (fire burns wood, doughnut attracts cop). It doesn’t sound entirely far off of the create-anything emergent possibilities of LittleBigPlanet, with the important caveat that the player designs the scenario as well as the means for solution in that game, where here the challenge will be working our way through 5th Cell’s mindset.

Whether they can succeed will remain a gaping chasm of an open question until more of the game comes to light over the coming months, but for now it’s hard not to stay just a little entranced by the magic of its possibility.

World Debut: Scribblenauts [IGN]

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  1. “… entranced by the magic of its possibility.”

    > It is pitch dark. You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  2. Looks awesome, but I’m still a little skeptical. At one point, IGN flat-out asks him “Alright, how many words can one write?” and he just replies with a vague “Well, the answer is that if you can think it, you can write it.”

  3. “the only limit is your imagination”, eh?

    So, what happens if you write demon, grey goo or steampunk? Never mind things like vorpal rabbits, cthulhu, aleister crowley and shroedinger’s cat.

    Such big promises, not a chance they’ll come close to being fulfilled.

  4. You can always think up something so obscure that it’s not in the vocabulary (or just type random letters). The trick is that most people aren’t going to be doing that – they’ll be attempting to solve the puzzle.

  5. Cthulhu solves all puzzles simultaneously but eats you AND the starite.

    I’m sure the gag is you can “write” anything. It just may not have a clue what you meant if you get off the spreadsheet.

  6. The doughnut and cop at the end made me laugh.

    I loved Drawn To Life. This looks like a neat gimmick.

  7. This is a really cute idea, but it seems like it would benefit enormously from monitoring user input so that content could be added.

    I guess I just want a game that distributes content more like LittleBigPlanet.

  8. Pingback: Giant crab battles, narrow baby-violence-avoidance: it must be a new Scribblenauts trailer | VENUS PATROL

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