If you want to keep your brain and creative imagination in shape it may be time to pick up Scribblenauts Unlimited.
This is the fourth installment of the Scribblenauts franchise; the original made a name for itself back in 2009 for its innovative ability to render almost any noun you could think of onscreen using a magic notebook. This, however, is the first iteration to make it to the big, hi-def screens of your PC and television.
The goal of the game, like the previous Scribblenauts, is to collect "Starites" which you receive when completing a puzzle or riddle using objects you create. A major departure form the previous games is the level selection. Instead of discrete linear puzzles, Unlimited has a single world that is split into different themed areas, all with their own objectives. Visit the big city to help the police catch a thief or a tropical island to help a shipwrecked couple. How you help them is completely up to you and your magic notebook. As long as they end happy, you get the Starite.
Of course, it's hard to create a database of every imaginable object in existence, but the developers at 5th Cell did a darn good job. As usual, proper nouns and obscenities are excluded from the list of playable words, narrowing your choices. If you're feeling ambitious and creative you can fire up the new item editor and modify any item in the game in a myriad of ways to create whole new objects. Change the color, move parts around, change sizes and even add in physical properties, adjectives and scripted behaviors. Turn Death, the Grim Reaper himself, into a tutu-wearing ballerina that flies and throws confetti! Or whatever else comes out of your imagination.
Scribblenauts Unlimited uses the Steam Workshop to let you share and download different homemade creations. People have been very creative in making their favorite characters from all forms of media, notable objects such as the Holy Hand Grenade and Companion Cube and all sorts of off-the-wall weapons like a hamburger launcher or baby-bazooka. Browse the workshop to find other awesome and horrible things to try out.
Unlike previous Scribblenauts games, this one actually comes with a backstory. It's not very engaging, but it does add a little context as to why you are running around "helping" people. After receiving the magic notebook from your adventuring parents, protagonist Maxwell and your 42 (seriously?) other siblings start to become spoiled. When Maxwell plays a joke on a hungry old man by creating a rotten apple, the codger puts a curse on Maxwell's sister that slowly turns her to stone. Doing good deeds and obtaining Starites is the only way to reverse the curse.
Overall, this is a great installment to an already innovative series. The addition of an object editor adds a whole different aspect of replayability, allowing your imagination to really go to work. At first its daunting to think that any object imaginable can be edited and tweaked to become anything else, but the editor's easy-to-use interface and simple explanations made it easy to bring things to life. In my experience, kids and adults alike could easily lose hours tinkering around with different objects.
The main game is a bit on the simple side, and those less interested in creative ways to solve puzzles will blow right through it. But that's not what makes the game fun; playing to see what silly and off-the-wall ways you can achieve success is. When entering a new themed area, there are a set number of Starites and Starite pieces to collect. You can use "Starite vision" to see which people and objects you can actually interact with to progress, a nice feature that keeps you from clicking around every object. Selecting the person or object will bring up their editing menu as well as what needs they have. For example (pictured below): a museum curator wanted to know which artifact was fake. I simply created and equipped a magnifying glass to finish the objective (an admittedly boring solution), earning myself a Starite piece. There are numerous ways to succeed, it's up to you to figure out the best way, which isn't always the quickest. When you collect enough Starites you unlock a new part of the map, opening new themed areas.
Scribblenauts Unlimited seems made for anyone who enjoys using a creative imagination and having fun. Kids and adults of any age alike will likely get a kick out of trying to outsmart the game with their crazy solutions to puzzles It could be a great holiday game to gather around, and with the whole family participating you never know what you might come up with. You can pick it up on Steam for $29.99, the 3DS for $39.99 or the Wii U for $59.99.