Scribblenauts was one of my favorite games of last year, along with the Professor Layton games. Scribblenauts had an absolutely brilliant concept — solving puzzles by writing things into existence — but, unfortunately, the controls made the game a bit more irritating than it should have been. Even with that downfall, I still wanted MORE, so I’m happy that the brand new Super Scribblenauts provides MORE…. AND fixes the controls.
As should be obvious by now, I’m a big fan of the Professor Layton series of games for the DS, particularly since even though I’ve only reviewed the previous game, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, I tend to mention Layton in just about every video game review I do. That said, there’s a reason I’m a big fan – the puzzles are great and the story is enjoyable.
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is a neat combination of a platformer and a puzzle game. Taking advantage of the DS‘ dual screens, the top screen lets you control Hatsworth through worlds, and on the bottom screen is a Bejeweled-type game; you can get powerups to go into the puzzle in the top world, and use those powerups and get health in the bottom. It’s an entertaining and kind of addictive combination.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the DS is that in addition to some really great standard video game titles, there’re a lot of equally great casual and puzzle games as well. It seems that the touchscreen combined with Nintendo’s perceived sense of whimsy when it comes to games is a good combination. In fact, I’m very surprised there hasn’t been a port of Katamari Damacy for any Nintendo console yet — it seems like a perfect fit for the Nintendo world. While Katamari hasn’t made the jump yet, Professor Layton is a series that fits really well with the Nintendo feel — whimsical, yet high quality.
Scribblenauts is an absolutely brilliant idea trapped in a merely OK game — luckily, the idea is so strong, it’s still worth recommending. The idea — which, again, is just outstanding — is that you’re a fella named Maxwell and you’re confronted with a series of puzzles, but you can create just about ANYTHING you can think of by writing it. Given that it’s a DS game — you can literally write it, or you’re given the option to hunt-and-peck with the stylus on a QWERTY keyboard. The latter typically works better; the handwriting recognition wasn’t as good as in some titles — but then, I’m a particularly brutal tester on that front, as anyone who’s actually seen my handwriting can attest. (To prove it I could always write this review out by hand and scan it, but, trust me — you don’t want that.)
The great thing about the Nintendo DS is that while it’s a hand-held system, it’s got enough power to be a decent standard system, too — along with a lot of great games for the system. One of the trends I’ve been seeing with the DS in particular are story-games that are popular on the Japanese market that’ve been coming over here. The Ace Attorney games are a good example, as are the two Trauma Center games.
I’ve always been a fan of the original Super Mario games. Super Mario Brothers and SMB3 are a couple of my favorite video games ever — fun, and occasionally maddening. I only got GOOD at them when I started playing them with an NES emulator that had a save function, but even when I was playing them on the original console and constantly falling into pits, I was having fun.
So, it was basically a given that the first game I bought when I got a Wii was Super Paper Mario. I hadn’t played any of the other games in the Paper Mario series, though I understand that they’re RPG games rather than platforms. SPM attempts to combine the two styles of game. In a way, this is perhaps the only flaw; I’m not a real RPG fan, so I found the excessive chatter between characters annoying (particularly in the opening sequence where it seemingly lasts for 5 minutes without any actual gameplay aside from hitting “2″ to speed through the non-skippable text as fast as you can), and I’m not sure if an RPG fan would find the game satisfying, since the RPG elements are superficial. Luckily, this is a minor complaint (at least standing where I do on the RPG v. Platform divide) as the platform part is really, really fun.