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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