Last night, I picked up both Scribblenauts and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story for the DS. I only spent about 45 minutes with each game, but both of them impressed me quite a bit in those 45 minutes. Scribblenauts is an all new experience for me, whereas I was a fan of the Mario & Luigi series of RPGs before picking up Bowser’s Inside Story.
The first game I played was Scribblenauts. This side scrolling game has you playing Maxwell, and you use a notepad to write words, which turn into objects on screen for Maxwell to use. The goal of each level is to get a Starite, either through solving a puzzle or through directly reaching the Starite. The objects that you create are the draw of the game, however, since Scribblenauts’ library is believed to be over 22,000 words. With my experience last night, only two words were rejected. One is a proper noun (Obama) and the other is a copyrighted word (Tazer). All other words that I put in created an object (key, sandwich, time machine, mech, tank, flame, pistol, shotgun, rock, superhero, hippie, smoker, smoke, wind, flame, dragon, dragoon, ninja, and a lot more). The only one that gave me an unexpected result was smoke. I was intending to write smoke, and at the last minute decided to give smoker a shot instead just to see what would happen, and I got a bird, rather than a person with a cigarette.
Each of the puzzles are quite different from one another, and within each one you are trying to use as few objects as possible. If you ignore the ‘few objects as possible’, I doubt any of the puzzles are hard at all, but staying within that rule requires some thought. I also found some odd solutions to puzzles that amused me. In one puzzle, I was to rescue a kitten from a tree and give the cat back to the girl. Instead, I summoned a superhero who did the work for me. It worked exactly as planned. Sometimes, I would just screw around for no real goal. On a puzzle that had me catching a butterfly, instead I made a time machine, went back to medieval Europe, summoned a mech and killed all of the knights.
The only annoyance I’ve had thus far was the overly long and text heavy tutorial. I felt they could’ve trimmed that down by 80% and still given me all I needed. I hear complaints about controls, dealing with mis taps on the DS screen causing unfortunate movements, but I only briefly experienced this before taking an extra second on each tap to make sure I am precise. All in all, the game is very fun and very amusing. It is a great pick up and play game that will work well on my lunch breaks.
The other game of the night was Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story. Like Scribblenauts, it had an annoying intro/tutorial, but it was mitigated by rock solid dialog and very clean artwork. This game series has constantly impressed me and BIS is no exception. It follows up Partners in Time and Superstar Saga, which is an offshoot of Super Mairo RPG in a way. It doesn’t seem to change much from PIT, but this is a good thing. The controls, moves and menus are all very well done.
One of the things about this game that always impresses me is the localization team’s efforts. The dialog is witty and culturally applicable. It isn’t just any old RPG storyline, it is a story that is delivered in an always amusing fashion.
The only questionable decision (thus far, this could change) seems to be the side scrolling portions. I was really hoping for some sections of the game to be very reminiscient of old Mario games, but this feels more like regular BIS with a different background set and limited range of movement. I hope that as I progress, the levels evolve to give me nostalgia of the old days.
Both games are fantastic, however, and I will be discussing them on tonight’s recording of Jarate Sandvich, which will broadcast live at 7pm PDT on either ustream or stickam, depending on what kind of technical difficulties we have.