Maxwell hides incredible powers beneath his unassuming stature. When he fancies eating a hot dog, a tasty treat materializes into existence, and if he dreams bigger--say, with a prehistoric slant--he can conjure his trusted dinosaur, ready to ride. Objects and creatures spring forth from his magical notebook, easily modified with a clever adjective or two, and he uses this menagerie to solve the troubles plaguing his compatriots. The inherent joy of flexing your creative might makes Scribblenauts Unlimited a ridiculous delight, though the pleasures never reach their destined zenith. Because there are no boundaries to rein you in, puzzles rarely demand more than silly suggestions, putting the impetus for enjoyment on your ability to create fun within this off-the-wall sandbox.
Immaturity can infect even the purest of souls, and Maxwell finds himself in an unenviable position when the juvenile bug bites him. Using his magical notebook for a hoax, he creates a rotten apple for a starving man dressed in tattered rags. Lo and behold, upon seeing a worm squirm from the decayed skin, the man reveals his true self, a wronged sorcerer quick to anger. In a flash, rock crusts over sister Lily, slowly transforming her into a helpless statue, and Maxwell is set off on a quest to cure her. Only through kind deeds can his bad act be reversed, so he visits citizens in need of a helping hand and provides his services to win back the goodwill he needlessly lost.
Though only the beginning and ending sequences involve much in the way of plot development, the story weaves its way throughout this adventure. Collecting starites from satisfied people opens diverse worlds to explore, and each time new stages become available, you see how close Lily is to becoming completely petrified. Such a reminder solidifies that there's a reason for your goofy hijinks, so the narrative hook introduced in this installment of Scribblenauts helps push you through this adventure.
Despite this narrative impetus, Scribblenauts Unlimited has only a loose structure. You choose which stage on the map you want to visit, and you can reach the ending even before visiting every place. Each level is a sandbox, giving you ample opportunity to explore the environment or conjure whatever amusing notion comes to mind. Words written in your notebook spring to life, and with tens of thousands of different items recognized, you'll still be making discoveries hours into the adventure. Try bringing various breeds of dogs to life, and then seeing which look better in a top hat. Or turn that chocolate cake invisible because any calorie you can't see can't affect you. Travel through time or teleport to another place; there are few rules, so much of the appeal lies in experimentation.
When you tap on an animal or person in distress, you receive an objective, and that's when puzzle solving takes over. In a medieval dungeon, a public execution is taking place, and you're the chosen savior of the miscreant in chains. If you happen upon a lost underwater city, Poseidon requires your help in settling kingly matters. A frog needs a boost to cross the river, a baby goat can't keep up with its mama, and someone has to collect those crystal bones. The diverse problems urge you to scan your vocabulary to find the perfect word. Cycling between themes such as sports, farming, and animal rescue keeps you on your toes, and the sheer variety creates a pleasing, anything-goes atmosphere.