You'd think innovation and imagination would be the driving force behind the games industry - but as you look at the shelves upon shelves of Big Burly Space Marine 12, Generic Zombie Shooter 147, and the latest sports game, you realise quite how many games are just carbon copies of others. But once in a while, a developer really pushes the boat out and comes up with what turns out to be a truly unique idea - the original Scribblenauts was one such game.
Scribblenauts let you solve puzzles how you wanted to - the star of the game, Maxwell, came armed with a magical notebook, which you could use to summon any object you could think of; dinosaurs, God, jet packs and oodles more, which could be used to get you to the Starite at the end of a level. Then came the sequel, Super Scribblenauts, which added adjectives to the mix - and when you have your rideable, flying, fire-breathing tomato being eaten by a hungry fat man, before your explosive keyboard cat goes off and kills everything on the screen, you know you're onto a winner. In fact, half the fun of Scribblenauts is just mucking about.
Announced last night at Nintendo's Electronic Entertainment Expo conference, Scribblenauts Unlimited went from being the game no-one expected, to a game we definitely wanted. But now we're faced with a bit of a dilemma - with it launching on both the Wii U and 3DS, which one is the best one to get?
Whereas previous games had separate levels containing each Starite, Scribblenauts Unlimited has a much more open universe, where Maxwell can more freely explore the different worlds. Around this world are 41 different levels, with more than fifty Starites to retrieve, as well as over five hundred Starite shards to locate, which look set to be spread across levels and the world in general, with a new 'Starite Vision' power highlighting all nearby Starites and shards for you. There also seems to be a vague story going on too that tells you a bit about Maxwell's past - his parents, his twin sister Lily and where his magical notepad came from.
If you're playing on the Wii U, and need a hand with a particularly tricky a level, a friend will be able to droop in at any point using the Wii Remote, and take over one of the objects you've summoned - perhaps even saving you from ending up as a dinosaur's dinner in the process. While this certainly sounds like a cool feature, it's only going to be as good as the objects you've summoned - after all, who wants to spend ten minutes playing as an inanimate frying pan?
Not wanting to be left out, the 3DS version gets StreetPass functions, that let you send and receive your most creative solutions to the game's puzzles to and from the people you walk past during the day - which may prove to be quite funny. As long as the majority of people are more imaginative than my brother, who solved pretty much every puzzle on the first game with God, air vents and a jet pack...
Perhaps the clincher is the fact that Scribblenauts Unlimited on the Wii U lets you create your own objects and share them with friends. Having clocked up around fifteen hours in the 3DS download title FreakyForms so far, spent countless evenings tweaking our latest spring-powered car in Banjo: Nuts and Bolts, and having played the realistic racer Forza 2 on the Xbox 360 primarily for painting cars, we can sink quite a few hours into anything like that - and then spam our friends with our strange creations.
That's about all we know about Scribblenauts so far - no news of a release date for either format, or whether it'll be in the line-up of Wii U launch titles - although we're imagining it will be. What we do have though, is a trailer, which you can enjoy for yourself below: