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 Unlimited is an adventure game starring a young boy with a magical notebook who's on a mission to help everyone he can. Play encourages kids to use their imagination to conjure up whatever might be needed to solve a particular problem, like a doctor to tend to a sick person or a lawnmower to cut overgrown grass. While the range of objects players can create is enormous, the game stops short of allowing kids to spawn any truly disturbing imagery, serious violence, or adult-themed objects. Comical zombies, vomit, and laser guns are about as far as kids can take things. Parents should note that while this game allows players to share custom content with each other, controls are in place to keep swapped objects kid-friendly.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Max, the perpetually smiling star of SCRIBBLENAUTS UNLIMITED, has done a bad thing at the game's outset. After playing a prank on someone with his magical notebook, which lets him conjure up anything he wants simply by writing it down, his sister is cursed to slowly turn into stone. The only things that can save her are starites -- little yellow stars earned by doing good deeds. So Max heads out into the world looking to use his notebook for the greater good. Under the player's guidance, he helps get cars running again by summoning mechanics, serves people in a restaurant by creating their ideal meals, and even ensures a first date goes smoothly by helping a guy procure some decent duds, a present, and a ride. In fact, players can help these people however they like, writing into existence anything they can think of that might solve their problems, from star-spangled bears to unreliable time machines. The object of the game is not only to solve problems, but to do so in fun and funny ways -- like, say, putting out a kitchen fire with a thunderstorm. There are dozens of areas for Max to explore and hundreds of puzzles for players to solve, which should keep kids busy for quite a while.
Is it any good?
As with past Scribblenauts games, you get as much out of Scribblenauts Unlimited as you put into it. It's pretty easy to solve most problems in basic ways, conjuring a guitar for a musician in need of an instrument or a bicycle for a kid in want of something to do. And kids will likely get bored if that's all they do. However, they're apt to have loads of fun if they take the time to think up goofy, outrageous, and unlikely solutions instead. Rather than demolish a building with a wrecking ball, why not summon up a nuclear missile or some sort of destructive monster?
The series' debut on Wii U finally gives Max a much needed backstory, and it sets the action in a pretty, high-definition, connected world where Max moves organically from one area to another, solving puzzles along the way. Not all of the new features work as well as others -- the co-op mode, which has additional players using a Wii Remote to control objects created by the main player with the GamePad, just makes for jealous friends -- but taken as a whole it's the deepest and most satisfying game the Scribblenauts series has yet produced.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about imagination. What sort of things can you imagine that are impossible to make in the real world? Was there anything you imagined that the game didn't let you create?
Families can also discuss violence in games. How can you tell what your kids are ready for? Do you factor in their judgment, what they think they might be ready to see?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii U
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, spelling, vocabulary
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: hypothesis-testing, problem solving, solving puzzles
Creativity: imagination, making new creations
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Warner Bros. Games
- Release date: November 18, 2012
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Great Boy Role Models
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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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.