Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: March 20, 2018
Scribblenauts Showdown is a party game collection of mini-games available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Scribblenauts made its debut in September 2009 releasing exclusively on the DS to unanticipated critical acclaim as it became a sleeper hit leading to a sequel titled Super Scribblenauts for the DS in October 2010, while Scribblenauts Remix was released for iOS and Android in October 2011 and April 2013 respectively. Scribblenauts Unlimited marked the first time that Scribblenauts appeared on a dedicated gaming console outside of the DS; launching on 3DS, Wii U and even PC from November 2012, while Scribblenauts ventured into the DC Comics Universe with Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure on 3DS, Wii U and PC in September 2013. Can Scribblenauts Showdown bring back the fun of classic party games such as Bishi Bashi Special?
Scribblenauts Showdown features over 25 mini-games in multiple variants throughout modes and settings. Words play an important part within the core gameplay mechanics such as being asked what people usually wear gloves in which if the player was to spell farmer, then your character in the dance off mini-game would be a farmer, while the animal or person you enter is exactly what your character will be sprinting and jumping upon throughout the super sprint mini-game and the name of the object you enter will be your weapon to swing or throw at the opposing player in medieval mayhem.
Versus mode includes wordy in which players have to enter words and spawn objects as a form of creative gameplay, while speedy offers fast-paced action games with no word entry required or alternatively play a combination of the two as a series of 5, 7, 9, 15 or 25 rounds or even select each individual mini-game without rounds being a factor during freeplay mode.
Showdown mode works somewhat differently as there is a choice of three game lengths between a short 15 minutes game, a medium length of 30 minutes or a long 45 minutes game. Showdown mode’s concept is also unique from Scribblenauts Showdown’s other modes as showdown mode is essentially a card game. Every turn begins with drawing cards such as your character moving forward by 4 spaces, making your opponent turn back by 2 spaces, drawing multiple cards for your character and more besides as rewards for winning a single round of a mini-game. Players are capable of essentially skipping a mini-game by utilising an instant reward card such as party pooper to send their opponent back by 3 spaces or every player is moved to a central space to even up progression towards the winning post with the first player to reach the end of the path on the game board being crowned victorious.
Sandbox mode provides 8 levels worth of puzzle based objectives as players have to look at the diagrams briefly displayed next to each character or animal before creating objects in order to position or give them to specific characters and animals to be able to solve each of the 10 objectives per level with starites, two awards and 8 unlockable objects available as rewards in each level.
Some of the premises of mini-games include delivering plates of food to hungry diners on time or they will become unhappy and walk away before collecting their empty plates otherwise they will smash on the floor with each player having 5 hearts worth of health that is gradually lost if players do not deliver food on time or do not collect empty plates. A food eating contest in which players must concentrate on not only eating but also swallowing their food, otherwise their character’s mouth will become too full leading to a massive pool of projectile vomit. Elsewhere, there is disco dancing, Frisbee throwing, inflating a balloon, a tug of war and much more besides.
Starites are earned for winning and participating in rounds, completing showdown mode and solving puzzles in sandbox mode which can then be spent to unlock outfits, hats or unique objects when modifying your scribblenaut, alongside unlocking sandbox levels and revealing clues for objectives within sandbox mode.
Character design is quite varied as players can initially choose from four available characters including Maxwell, Justice, Carmen and Lily, although there are a further 60 characters to unlock. Character customisation allows the player to create their own scribblenaut through extensive customisation options including entering a name; choosing a head from 45 that are available and a further 75 unlockable heads that are male or female with each having different hairstyles, facial hair, eyes and eyebrows; 15 hats and a further unlockable 60 hats; 5 hair colours and 10 unlockable hair colours; 5 skin colours and 10 unlockable skin colours; 15 facial accessories with a further 30 unlockable facial accessories such as sunglasses, an eye patch, an earring, a party popper and more besides; 15 body accessories and 30 unlockable body accessories such as bows, belts, medals, flowers and more besides; 15 sets of guys or girls clothes and 45 unlockable sets of guys or girls clothes; and 10 vehicle designs within each category of boats, magic carpets, drones, cranes, spaceships and rovers with 1 vehicle available and 9 unlockable vehicles in all 6 vehicle categories. Alternatively, players can press square on the my scribblenaut menu to randomise a character until the player is happy with their character’s styling before entering a name and saving the character.
There are 60 awards that each have their own artwork and title spanning a variety of objectives including Wordy Game Pioneer for playing two wordy games; Star Collector I, II and III for earning 5, 25 and 100 starites respectively; Inventor I, II and III for creating 1, 10 and 100 sandbox objects; Impasse, Standoff, Stalemate, Deadlock and Battle Royale for completing 5, 7, 9, 15 and 25 round versus match; and much more besides. The awards page is appropriately designed to display the player’s progression towards each individual award, alongside clearly informing the player as to what the exact objective is.
It is disappointing not to see a Vita release of Scribblenauts, especially considering Scribblenauts and Super Scribblenauts released on DS, while Scribblenauts Unlimited and Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure released on 3DS, alongside an iOS and Android mobile exclusive titled Scribblenauts Remix and a port of Scribblenauts Unlimited; yet there has never been a Scribblenauts game ported to PSP or Vita, although remote play is a consolation for Scribblenauts Showdown. Scribblenauts Showdown’s remote play performance is excellent as it produces the quality of graphics, audio and general performance from the PS4 version. Scribblenauts Showdown’s split-screen multiplayer in sandbox mode is displayed in split-screen during remote play, although it would have been much better to have the player using remote play to have their own full Vita screen with the other player having a full television screen. Remote play controls have been optimised as mini-games that require L2 and R2 are re-mapped to the top left and right of the touch screen respectively such as meal munch for swallowing food or sprinting in super sprint, while the rest of the controls remain identical; resulting in a comfortable remote play experience.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller, despite adapting from one mini-game to another such as rocket rubble sees the player pressing R2 or L2 to engage thrusters and manoeuvring with the left analogue stick, while pump it up tasks the player to utilise the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality by moving the controller up and down until the balloon has been inflated. Vibration occurs in such instances as when chopping up and stirring food in soup’s on, when strumming chords on the guitar in accordance with the golden notes in rock it and swallowing the food your character has just stuffed his or her face with in meal munch. There is no touch pad implementation which could have provided an alternative to the left analogue stick particularly during such mini-games as dance off, spike it and soup’s on, while the light bar only comes into play during local multiplayer to differentiate between each player’s characters.
Graphically, Scribblenauts Showdown produces dozens of characters and a unique environment for every mini-game, sandbox level and the showdown game board in a charming cartoon stylised aesthetic that works in perfect harmony with the party game genre in a similar fashion to that of classic party game Bishi Bashi Special.
Scribblenauts Showdown’s presentation is solid with an excellent user interface across various menus such as the main menu, game modes menus, local multiplayer menus, awards menu, my scribblenauts character customisation menus, settings menus and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds focus on a numerous quantity of scribbled objects, vehicles and animals.
Sound effects vary from one mini-game to another including murmurs of appreciation for cooking a tasty soup in soup’s on, strumming chords and playing riffs on guitar in rock it and the rocket’s thrusters in rocket rubble; accompanied by uplifting arcade style music. DualShock 4 speaker produces incidental sound effects to indicate when cards are being dealt during showdown mode, when a player has won a round during showdown mode and when a player loses a heart or collects the incorrect object during particular mini-games.
The trophy list includes 27 trophies with 8 bronze trophies, 12 silver trophies, 6 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Create A Scribblenaut bronze trophy for creating a custom scribblenaut and the Starite Apprentice bronze trophy for earning 25 starites. Harder trophies include the Plate Thrower bronze trophy for winning a game of get served without losing any health and the Olympian silver trophy for winning a game of super sprint without hitting an obstacle. It is important to note that the Four’s A Crowd silver trophy for completing a showdown with 4 players can be achieved between two controllers. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 25 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are three difficulty levels including easy, normal and hard with the major differences being a far more involved A.I. opponent that leads to faster reaction times which are especially noticeable in a mini-game such as rock it in which the player’s character that strums the guitar first after the note has turned gold fills some more of their progress bar towards winning the round, although the A.I. is barely able to strum a note on easy difficulty, while hard A.I. is seriously tough to beat.
No party game would be complete without local multiplayer and Scribblenauts Showdown does not disappoint in that aspect as it rather refreshingly and impressively provides local multiplayer in every mode from 2 up to 4 players in which mini-games are mostly same screen, but are split-screen when the gameplay requires it. It must be said that I personally found the local multiplayer so entertaining that the person that I played it with for nearly 3 hours during local multiplayer in every mode did not want to stop playing it and neither did I with more laughter taking place the longer we played for; which speaks volumes for how strong not only every mode is, but also how well they have been designed for local multiplayer. Versus, showdown and sandbox mode offers every option from single player with versus supporting 2 players, while showdown allows 4 players to participate via their own controllers or both controllers being shared between 2 players to enable a 4 player experience without needing 4 controllers, alongside drop-in/drop-out split-screen multiplayer for 2 players in sandbox mode that fuses together co-operative multiplayer in having to solve objectives and competitive multiplayer by being able to hit another player’s character with an object you have created.
Scribblenauts Showdown’s replayability stems from the unique, fun, entertaining and engaging gameplay spread throughout three entirely different game modes in the form of versus, showdown and sandbox modes with over 25 mini-games and 8 sandbox levels full of objectives that involve creating objects to help characters and animals, while there are dozens of unlockable characters and customisable character elements, alongside local multiplayer support in every game mode for 2 up to 4 players that collectively provides significant replay value.
- Title: Scribblenauts Showdown
- Developer: Shiver Entertainment
- Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
- System: PS4
- Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1-4 (Local Multiplayer)
- Hard Drive Space Required: 1.72GB