Parents' Guide to

Scribblenauts Showdown

By David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Departure for vocabulary-building series gets repetitive.

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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.

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