Scribblenauts Showdown is a modern version of the verbal puzzle problem solver that first appeared on the handhelds almost nine years ago. This new incarnation brings some of the same fun and lets you invite some friends, but the included content is just not deep enough to keep you playing.
In a lot of ways, Scribblenauts Showdown is a multiplayer game like Wario Ware. The Versus Mode lets 1-2 players engage in a series of mini games. You can select between two categories – speedy, wordy, or a combination of both.
Wordy games let you pick a word, but it picks a category or first letter. In one game, that means you are picking your flying mount to cross a scary river while flying up and down to avoid obstacles. In another, you are choosing what food you will competitively eat.
You can pick from the 35,000 words in the game’s built-in dictionary. Scribblenauts Showdown doesn’t stand in the way of experimentation, and this is the best part of the experience. I rode winged dynamite in the first game, and I ate glue in the second one. To be fair, I thought glue was going to be smaller than candy corn, but I was wrong.
Speedy games are less Scribblenaut-y, because they are literally just moving the controller or pressing buttons faster. They can still be fun with other people, but they lack the spirit of creativity in the Wordy games.
The games are typically physical in some way. One of them has you climbing a rope by moving your controller sticks up and down and waiting for things to move out of your way. Another game has you digging up a treasure chest by bobbing the remote up and down as fast as you can.
Showdown attempts to shake things up by inviting you to play a board game. The first person to reach the end wins. Everyone draws cards, and there are several types. The standard card has you play one of the prior Speedy or Wordy mini games, and the winner advances by the number listed on the card.
- Developer: Shiver
- Release Date: March 6th
- Price: $39.99
There are two other cards you can grab to make things more interesting. The instant reward and boost cards let you move a certain number of spaces immediately or push another player back. They can cause a little mischief, but they are much more rare.
Showdown lets you pick the Speedy or Wordy games you want to play from your deck, but you are still just playing the same games. The mini-games are over pretty quickly. In a couple hours, you have already seen all twenty-five or so mini games more than a few times. Even with having to pick a different item based on another letter or think up a new vehicle from a construction site, it doesn’t take long to be tired of them.
Sandbox is where you can spend the majority of your time, and it is most like the Scribblenauts you remember. All of the eight levels can be played with a friend and have a theme like a ship, train, haunted amusement park, or underwater exploration. There are people or animals with a problem icon, and you will be rewarded with starites for helping them.
Some of the answers are obvious, but the clues on the menu can be very helpful. If someone has a fork and knife icon, give them something to eat. An alarm clock is perfect for waking up a dedicated sleeper, and a ring will help someone looking to propose.
Some of the answers are more obscure, and I found myself stacking up items next to someone before finally guessing the specific item they wanted. This was really frustrating, and it exposed the lack of flexibility.
This prompted me to torture them or just devise some way of making them unhealthy or unhappy. I unleashed multiple Cthulus, dragons, lions, nuclear bombs, missile launchers, and all kinds of unpleasant deaths to anyone I couldn’t satisfy.
The game never stopped me. Instead, it remained cute. When the nuclear bomb went off, the people near it became green with radiation, but were otherwise unaffected. I didn’t earn any starites, but I felt a little better as the vengeful god of that universe.
When you are not a one-man rider of the apocalypse, you can earn and spend starites everywhere. Extra sandbox levels can be purchased, new vehicle models can be added for the mini games, and you can unlock new costumes for your own Scribblenaut.
The creation of a Scribblenaut avatar is limited to hair and skin color, clothes, and accessories. I was still able to make something a little different and use it in every game. This personalization was great.
The visuals are the same cartoonish art style, and I wouldn’t want anything else. The colors are bright, and even a dangerous Tyrannosaurus rex looks a little friendly until he bites you.
There is fun to be had in Scribblenauts Showdown, but I was tired of the overly repetitive mini games very quickly. Unfortunately, the sandbox did not have enough content to make up for it.
I would not recommend buying it for the single player alone, but playing with friends can be fun for a few hours. After that, you have literally seen and done everything multiple times, and even 35,000 words cannot inject more gameplay.
Scribblenauts Showdown PS4 Review
Scribblenauts Showdown is a game that reminds me of the fun I had playing previous versions, but the repetitive mini games and lack of content keep it from being more than a short diversion.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.
Jason became terminally addicted to videogames after receiving the NES at an early age. This addiction grew to include PC gaming and was cemented with the launch of the PS2. From then on, he was afflicted with epic RPGs, tense shooters, and deep strategy games, never becoming skillful, but never able to quit. He continues to play games (poorly) and share his passion for them to anyone willing to listen.