CNET First Look
Hands-on with ScribblenautsScribblenauts, for the Nintendo DS, innovates thanks to a unique interface that lets players type in the name of real-world objects they want to use in the game.
[ MUSIC ] ^M00:00:03 >> [Dan Ackerman:] So in an era where video game innovation is pretty much being able to shoot aliens with two guns at the same time or playing plastic copies of real instruments, it's interesting to see a game that actually tries to do some real innovation. Scribblenauts is a game for the Nintendo DS that was really one of the most buzzed-about games coming out of the big E3 video game trade show a couple of months ago. What it is, is basically it's a platform game where you have to get your little guy from one end of the level to the other, and the innovation is, in order to do that, you create any tool that you want just by taking your stylus and typing in the name of that tool on the on-screen keyboard. On this level, my little guy is over here, and as you can see, he's got to get to the star all the way over here. So by clicking on my little notepad I can type in all kinds of things that'll help me do that. Let's say I wanted to fly over the top. I could type in "jet pack." Look at that; there's my jet pack. Drag it on. I'm flying. Of course a lot of fun stuff you could try. I just tried typing in a bunch of random words. I said what would happen if I asked for a time machine? And this was pretty funny. It gives me like this H.G. Wells-looking time machine. And if I hop on it, it then flashes me back to some sort of period in the past. Now it seems like some sort of crazy artificial intelligence or mind-reading that the game can pretty much figure out what you're talking about and give you anything that you want. It's actually a little bit of clever sleight of hand. There are a lot of things -- chair, seat, rock, stone -- that are sort of similar words that give you pretty much the same object in the game. And it turns out that having several people play it, people generally tend to gravitate toward a handful of items. I think a ladder is a very popular choice. We did have a hard time finding anything that wasn't in the game's dictionary that we would want to use. One example actually is "fulcrum." That was not in the dictionary. And of course what we quickly found out is actually completing the levels is not nearly half as fun as just typing in crazy stuff and seeing what happens. I'm Dan Ackerman and that's Scribblenauts for the Nintendo DS. ^M00:01:56 [ MUSIC ]