Game Name – Scribblenauts Remix
ESRB Rating – E10+
Genre – Puzzle, Casual
Educational Values – Spelling, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving
Platforms – iPhone, iPad, Nintendo DS, Android
Where to buy – iPhone App Store, Amazon, Electronics retailers.
Would we buy it? – This game is pretty incredible. We would definitely recommend it at the $19.99 price, but at the $.99 cost for the iPhone or iPad you would be doing yourself and your children a disservice in not buying Scribblenauts Remix.
About the Game
This is another Puzzle game. We just can’t get enough of Puzzle games here at Gaming To Learn. Scribblenauts Remix is aimed at a much younger audience than Portal or Braid. But don’t let that slow down the adults out there reading this. The puzzles are fun and interesting and will have you scratching your head.
If you are looking for a game you can play with your kids, this is it. In Scribblenauts you control a cartoon character named Maxwell and help him accomplish tasks by creating items to help him accomplish his goal. For example, to complete the first level, you must cut down a tree. So you can type in the word “saw” and have the game create a saw for Maxwell. From there you pick it up and tap the tree and he cuts it down. Simple, right? The challenges get progressively more difficult, and you have to get correspondingly more creative. The best part is that each level has multiple ways to solve it.
Each level has specific requirements, but how you accomplish them is completely up to you. You may need to help Maxwell cross a river, or put animals in his aquarium, or climb some rocks. For example, if you need to help Maxwell stock his aquarium, you could type “fish”, “pebbles”, “food”, etc. into the word field and have them be created for you! I am constantly surprised and impressed at the breadth of dictionary built into the game.
Do not let the cartoon characters and simple opening rounds make you think this game is only for children. It gets more complex with each new level. It is a good thing that it has a hint feature because there were times when I was stumped at how to help Maxwell out. (though, my 5 year old niece was less stumped than I. Perhaps I was overthinking it…)
There are fifty levels to play in this game. Each level is unique and challenging. There is also a hint feature that is on a timer, if you are stuck for too long, it automatically gives you a slightly more complete hint to nudge you along. Of course, this also lowers your score over time as well. But, personally, I found that I cared less about my score for each round and more happy with the fact that I finished it successfully. After a couple of rounds, I wanted to start finishing the challenge in the most creative way possible.
What the Game Teaches Us
Scribblenauts gives the gamer a problem and then allows them to come up with a creative way to solve it. With each new level and world the game slowly gets more complex. This is an excellent example of an appropriate “learning curve” where new mechanics and concepts of the game are applied over time without the gamer feeling like they are unable to keep up.
Playing Scribblenauts teaches patience, logic, creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking. But it does it all without the gamer realizing it. You are not consciously trying to solve a puzzle, you are just trying to help Maxwell prepare for a party, or open a door.
Scribblenauts does not fit into a specific classroom subject, except perhaps spelling for the younger gamers. The game also requires higher-order thinking in order to be successful. Going back to Bloom’s Taxonomy as a model, Scribblenauts requires analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
Converting an abstract concept like “cross the water” into a plan “sail on a boat” that has requirements “I need to create a boat” with instant feedback and iterative steps “this boat is not large enough, I need a bigger one” seems like a very simple thing to an adult. But to a child, it is a very specific skill that needs to be nurtured and developed.
General Feelings on the Game
Scribblenauts has a very well defined learning curve. It is obvious that the creators took great pains to make sure that a novice could start playing immediately but still be consistently challenged over time.
Even though I hate to use the tired expression, “Fun for the whole family!” This game really is. Scribblenauts is a perfect example of what a casual game should be. It is simple enough to pick up in a few minutes, complex enough to keep your interest, the levels are short enough to play whenever you have a few minutes, and there’s enough variety to keep you wanting to pick it up.
I picked up this game for the iPad over Christmas for $.99, and was able to play it with my 5 year old niece sitting on my lap. She loved to watch Maxwell run and jump around while we talked through each of the puzzles together and came up with ideas on how Maxwell could accomplish them. It may not appropriate for children younger than ten on their own just because there are parts where some creations can fight one another. It is very ‘cartoony’ without any blood, but the spelling challenge coupled with the mild violence leads us to agree with the ESRB and recommend that this game be played with an adult up until age 10.