Game review by
Jinny Gudmundsen, Common Sense Media
Scribblenauts Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Unique puzzles wow with ability to write objects into game.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 34 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

This game sends the message that if you use your mind in creative ways, you can accomplish a lot, like solving these puzzles. Since the game rewards creative solutions, players are encouraged to think outside of the box. The game also rewards solutions that don't use violence, thus sending the message that solving these puzzles without violence is a good thing.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Maxwell never gets flustered even when chaos ensues around him.

Ease of Play

The game starts with a good set of tutorials. These tutorials do not explain everything, but most can figure out the things that are left unsaid. Some of the puzzles are devilishly challenging so hints would have been a nice addition, but they are missing from this game.


Since you can summon up guns and other weapons, there can be some cartoony violence. But no blood or gore is shown -- defeated characters simply disappear with a pop. You can create violent situations, such as attaching a piece of meat to a baby and then introducing a lion into the scene. The lion will go after the meat and eat the baby. Again, no gore is actually shown. You can also conjure up Death (who looks like the Grim Reaper), and if you dispatch him on a character, that character will disappear, presumed dead. But you can play this game without violence, and are rewarded with more in-game dollars for solutions that don't use violence or weapons.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this unique puzzle game allows kids to use their imagination to solve a series of over 200 puzzles. They can write-in the objects they want to use to try to solve a puzzle and those objects then magically appear on the screen. With over 10,000 objects that can be scribbled into existence, there is a lot for kids to explore. Since this game is so open-ended, kids can conjure up combinations that are violent, like weapons to kill cute little animals or summoning Death to dispatch a character. Also, two of the 220 puzzles require you to do something violent like "put down the three rabid animals," but you can simply opt to not solve those 2 puzzles. Because some violence is possible and the puzzles can get challenging, this game is best for kids ages 10 and up.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNIGHTMARE_HELLO... June 15, 2019

Haha, I love it!!

It's sooooo fun! I would laugh my head off as I dressed myself as a mom, and had a girl follow me, and a police officer would start raging! I love giving s... Continue reading
Adult Written bySeal1 January 8, 2013

Parents Beware, the higher levels are not so "sweet"

Well, as I found out today, in the name of "educational gaming" your child can learn how to bury a corpse and kill animals. I think there are better... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old October 26, 2019

Fun game.

I don't have a DS so i play it on my 3DS, and the experience is pretty awesome. I also have the other 2 versions (Super and Unlimited) and they're als... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byclankfandom100 February 9, 2018

What's it about?

SCRIBBLENAUTS is a unique puzzle game because you can spell into existence any object that you want to solve a puzzle. Scribbled-into-existence objects appear on the screen, have rules attached to them, and can be manipulated. There are 220 puzzles spread over 10 themed worlds. The game has over 10,000 words that have items associated with them, including everyday items like ladders, ropes, and ramps, as well as fanciful objects like black holes, Pegasus, and winged shoes. You can even conjure up Death and God. All of the puzzles have the same goal: help cute little Maxwell get to a star. In some, you must figuring out how to manipulate your environment including figuring out a way to get the star out of a tree. In others, you might have to figure out how to accomplish an objective like having Maxwell reach a butterfly. In the latter example, if you scribble a flower into existence and plant it next to Maxwell, the butterfly will fly down so that Maxwell can capture it. The number of objects that can be added to each puzzle is limited. Players earn in-game currency by solving the puzzles, with more money awarded for the least number of objects summoned and/or for solving it in the most creative way possible.

Is it any good?

With this think-it, write-it, play-with-it mechanic, puzzle solutions are limited only by your imagination. This kind of gameplay puts you in the driver's seat by letting you solve puzzles the way you want. If you like to solve puzzles by blowing things up, you can. However, if you would rather explore more peaceful means, that too is possible, and in most cases, will earn you more money. Because you can replay a puzzle as many times as you like, experimenting is encouraged. Since this is such a different way to approach puzzles, Scribblenauts wisely starts with a good set of tutorials.

Scribblenauts is a great game for a family to explore to together because each person can suggest different ideas about how to solve a puzzle. Even non-gamers will find this one interesting to explore. Plus, the game has a Level Editor, which allows players to try their hand at creating new puzzles that can be shared with others on the same DS or via the Nintendo DS Wi-Fi connection. Don't miss this one -- it is one of the most innovative games on the Nintendo DS.

Online interaction: You can share puzzles that you create with others via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. No chat is available.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about innovation in video games. Do you have any ideas for a game that has yet to be created?

  • With this kind of gameplay, where you are in control of how you solve a puzzle, did you find that you felt vested in the result? How about the ability to create your own puzzles to share? Did that pique your interest as well?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
  • Price: $29.99
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Warner Bros. Games
  • Release date: September 15, 2009
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • ESRB rating: E10+ for Cartoon Violenc, Comic Mischief
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love creative thinking

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate