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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Scribblenauts Showdown is a party/puzzle-platformer game for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Players engage in a variety of tasks and mini-games using a selection of words, actions, modifiers, and characters. There's some cartoon violence as some games or tasks prompt players to use "cartoony" weapons (e.g., bazookas, bombs, swords) to deplete the health meters of other characters. Characters can also eat or bite other characters when prompted by a modifying word/trait. A handful of areas contain enemy characters (i.e., skeleton warriors) that will attack players if approached. That's the extent ot the objectionable content in this game, though, since it's designed with kids in mind. The main focus of Scribblenauts Showdown is creative problem-solving and outsmarting your opponents in this competitive slant on this vocabulary-based series.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
SCRIBBLENAUTS SHOWDOWN is different from previous entries in the popular wordsmith Whac-A-Mole series. The focus is now on a variety of mini-games, many of which don't require words to ever be entered. It does include the classic sandbox mode where players can conjure nearly any object imaginable from an expansive dictionary of 35,000 words to appease characters, or create comical chain reactions of unexpected interactions; this is presented as a selection from a menu with no narrative attached.
Is it any good?
This game's biggest drawback is how repetitive it can quickly become. Intended to be played competitively between friends and the whole family, the odds are fairly good everyone involved in a round of Scribblenauts Showdown will start to tire of the 25 mini-games after an hour or two. The classic sandbox mode is here for respite, letting players loose on eight somewhat small stages to conjure words from a 35,000-word dictionary to gratify characters (like the geisha who wants a specific flower or the dinosaur egg under a snowstorm that needs to hatch). This series has always been synonymous with that impressive dictionary and giving you the freedom to make whatever you can think of, add adjectives to them, and see what sort of chaos or funny interaction happens.
Showdown doesn't lose out on a recommendation simply because it's a departure, but do temper your expectations: The right turns here aren't as bold as they could be. The 25 mini-games fall into two flavors: wordy games and speedy mini-games. Wordy games require you to input a word that fulfills a certain criteria so that you possibly gain an unpredictable upper hand. For example, an obstacle course that asks you to enter a word that starts with "S." I found that riding a sumo wrestler was surprisingly faster than my opponent, riding a salmon. Not all that different but less verbal are speedy mini-games, where you simply must race against the clock to, say, collect more fireflies than the other players. The main draw of playing all these modes over and over again is collecting starites, which function as the game's currency. With them, you can purchase hints for sandbox mode or accessories for your character. It'd be a heartier recommendation if there was more variety here -- most mini-game collections like this, at minimum, have two to three times of what's here -- but for a kid-friendly party game, this is a nice addition to your shelf.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. Even though the violence in Scribblenauts Showdown is cartoony and portrayed as harmless, how might it still desensitize players?
Talk about why popular series in entertainment branch out and take new directions. What do you think drives a series into a new direction?
Discuss imagination and creativity. What sorts of things could you imagine that Scribblenauts Showdown couldn't create? What sorts of things can you imagine that people say are impossible but could really help others?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Warner Bros. Interactive
- Release date: March 6, 2018
- Genre: Mini-games
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Horses and Farm Animals, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Ocean Creatures, Robots
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Crude Humor, Cartoon Violence
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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.