Scribblenauts Unlimited

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Vocabulary-exercise puzzler is an imaginative treat.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The story focuses on helping people solve problems. Kids are encouraged to stretch their imaginations to the limit as they write words that are used to summon into existence nearly anything they can think of to deal with the situations they encounter.

Positive role models

Max learns a lesson early on about playing practical jokes, then spends the rest of the game trying to do good deeds. He provides aid of one form or another to nearly everyone he meets in the game, all in the name of the grander goal of saving his sister from turning to stone. 

Ease of play

Moving Max around with the thumbstick is a snap, and finding folks in need of assistance is easy if you turn on starite vision, which highlights all nearby puzzles. What's more, there's generally a pretty simple solution to almost all of the game's hundreds of conundrums. If you do get stuck, the game will eventually provide a simple clue or suggestion for what you need to do.

Violence

Using Max's notebook kids can conjure up things that perpetrate violence, including everything from atomic bombs and laser rifles to raging zombies and giant destructive monkeys. That said, everything is presented in a very cartoonish manner, and the game stops short of allowing players to summon more disturbing things such as blood, gore, or victims. They can also add vomit and farting.

Sex

Players can create "pretty" people, and one mission is about making sure a couple's date and wedding go smoothly. However, there's no hanky-panky and the game doesn't let kids create objects with adjectives like "nude."

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The game does not permit players to create objects using words like "wine," "beer," or "cigarette."

Privacy & safety

Mild privacy and safety concerns. Players can create and share content with each other. Controls are in place to ensure none of the objects shared in the community are offensive, but there is a chance some mischievous players might share objects with more mature themes.

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.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • spelling
  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • hypothesis-testing
  • problem solving
  • solving puzzles

Creativity

  • imagination
  • making new creations

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Most kids will be amazed by the game's capacity to summon virtually any sort of object or creature they describe with words. 

Learning Approach

This game is all about experimentation. Kids use their imaginations to think of clever ways to solve problems, then try their ideas to see how they work out. 

Support

The game offers just enough instruction to get going, then lets kids loose to figure out solutions on their own. If you do get stuck, the game will eventually provide a simple clue or suggestion.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • spelling
  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • hypothesis-testing
  • problem solving
  • solving puzzles

Creativity

  • imagination
  • making new creations

Kids can learn about puzzle solving while exercising their vocabulary and stretching their imagination in this highly creative puzzle adventure. Players need to search their stock of words to come up with nouns and adjectives that describe, in detail, the sort of creatures and things they want to create to solve non-player characters' problems. Generally speaking, the more creative and imaginative the solution, the more fun the game is. Misspelled words are marked in red with suggestions for correct spellings provided, which means kids may get to brush up on their spelling skills while playing.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii U
Price:$59.99
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 (Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii U)

This review of Scribblenauts Unlimited was written by

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

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byARandomDude February 24, 2013
 
LEARNING

Awesome, Really Creative

Its really creative, you build things,You will really like this game in single player or in multiplayer its fun for the family and funny I rate this 10/10
Kid, 11 years old January 9, 2013
 
LEARNING

Great!

This game is great! I think that any kid should play it, though younger kids will definitely need help with some puzzles. Actually, I'm 11, and I still needed help on some of them!
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 9, 15, and 18 year old Written bySpecimenB April 12, 2013
 

Good for the whole family

A terrific game for parents and kids a like. My son and I enjoy playing together and seeing how many silly solutions we can come up with. Much like the old scribblenauts, you create just about any object in existence to solve puzzles by typing in the name. In Unlimited, you have an open world of numerous themes to visit and solve many puzzles and stories. The worlds vary from ancient Egypt, space, jungle tribes, urban cities and beaches. Lot's to play and replay. Also, with a spellcheck, kids can learn how to properly spell words. The Wii U version adds more features with the gamepad screen. Overall, this was a good buy.

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