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Scribblenauts Showdown Review

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I am quite a big Scribblenauts fan. Ever since the first entry back on the Nintendo DS, I have always admired how it pushes players to be creative in their creations and really think out of the box. If you are new to the series then to put it lightly, the game revolves around you creating anything you could ever dream of (no R-rated things here), by typing words into the game. It has over 35,000 objects that you can bring to life and then with the added feature of adjectives they are more than just objects in the game. 

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Scribblenauts Showdown takes a step back from the traditional gameplay and opens up a new multiplayer aspect to the game. In the past, players would be instructed to go through a series of levels and solve challenges given to them by creatures and people in the area. You would have to create objects to do so and use your imagination to solve these riddle-like puzzles. While these mechanics are still present in this game, Showdown has taken a mini-game path and the results are awesome. The game is divided into various modes such as Showdown, Versus and Sandbox.

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Sandbox represent the Scribblenauts we know and love. Set across different stages you will roam the area trying to help various people and animals out. You will need specific items that have specific abilities in order to fulfil their request. There are a few hints you can use to help you discover what these puzzles are really about as often a simple flashing icon over a person's head does not help much. Every request you fulfil will grant you with Starites that you can use to unlock more levels with and buy words you can use across the game. There are eight levels to play through with each of them being diverse in its challenges and puzzles. 

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Showdown, however, is where the game truly shines. The mode is a multiplayer boardgame-like experience that sees players travel across spaces as they compete in mini-games to move forward, kick a player back, or simply steal player's card or even spot. The game revolves around these extremely fun mini-games that players will compete in and try and win. While it sounds simple, the classic Scribblenauts word creation makes it anyone's game. Mini-games all give players an option to create an object be it starting with a specific letter or just anything off the top of their head. These objects will then play a major role in the game ahead and can lead to you either winning or losing the round.

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I for one thought it would be fun to fly across a Flappy Bird-like game on top of a mammoth. Which was not a good idea at all. This resulted in me hitting my head on objects depleting my hearts and losing the round. This then happened again to my brother as he thought it wise to stack coliseums on his flying carpet as they would be easier to stack. Instead, he was given large structures that were anything but easy-to-stack.  Another great moment was when we had to choose an object to shoot at each other. He created an orange and I created TNT. Obviously, my TNT blew his structure to pieces in seconds. 

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Some of the games included collection your created object in space and dropping it off in a black hole, racing across a deadly track with the creature you create and even eating whatever object you created faster than your opponent while trying to not puke. Each game is simple to pick up and play and the overall control schemed, while clunky, do work well. Some of them even rely on you flicking your remote to toss an alarm clock back and forth as it counts down. Whoever is holding the clock when the alarm goes off is the loser. 

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The mini-games force you to apply your imagination beyond the typical gameplay and the more you know what you are about to do and the smarter you are about your approach, the better you will be at the games. Remember, the entire dictionary is at your disposal which means you can either create something that will help or go too far and screw yourself over. Add four people into the mix and you have a great mini-game session and I am a real sucker for a couch gameplay session where I can beat my friends or punch them on the arm if I lose. 

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The minigame selection is also pretty vast and it took us a few sessions of Showdown before seeing repeats. Still, the added feature of wordplay makes it even more fun as each time you play the same minigame you could approach it with a different object. It's something that has not been done before and it is great. There are hundreds of unlockable items to buy with your Starites you earn after each game and the experience gets better with more people you add to the session. 

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Where the game does falter a bit is in its controls. They feel clunky especially when it comes down to moving around in the Sandbox mode. Interaction with objects and completing minigames is fun and easy to master but there will be an additional time where you swear at the game because it simply feels as if your character is not listening to you. Typing words is also quite easy to master as there is no physical keyboard only buttons that you need to press that lead to a new letter. I never did not find a word I was looking for which is pretty great and the typing gets easier the more you do it. I also felt that people who never tried the game before adapted to the keyboard pretty quickly too.

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An average match of Showdown saw us fight each other in minigames to move ahead or steal cards from other players. Each card you get on each turn does something different and while players can see your hand it kind of acts as a bargaining tool for them. Showdown supports up to four players and can last anything between 15 - 60 minutes depending on what board you choose. With that being said, the game is a lonely one playing alone. Single player modes are restricted to Sandbox and after you complete those few stages the game is useless until you have someone to play with. 

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In the end, Scribblenauts Showdown delivered a great selection of minigames that made us all scream at each other at least once. It may be far from the traditional games we are used to in the series but its minigame approach works as the game is great to play with a bunch of friends. While it suffers from some clunky controls we had a load of fun with it and I can see myself booting it up when friends come over. Nothing like a flea-eating contest to test your friendship. 

This review was based off a review code provided to us by WB Games.

Available On: PS4, Xbox One, Switch| Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 9 March 2018 | RRP: R629

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