Generally favorable reviews - based on 72 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 46 out of 72
  2. Negative: 0 out of 72
Buy On
  1. In the end, we came away from Scribblenauts wondering if we had missed the point. There were a few puzzles with satisfyingly original solutions, but instead of feeling empowered by the freedom to write anything we wanted, we felt more confined by the limitations of core mechanic and the game’s lousy controls.
  2. I can't deny that I'm disappointed by Scribblenauts' shortcomings, but I will certainly continue to play after this review is done - and I hope with all my heart that 5th Cell decide to make a sequel.
  3. While the package is innovative, polished and fun, often-terrible controls throw a clumsy wrench in the otherwise well-oiled machine and prevent this from taking on "must-have" status.
  4. It's a dazzling technical feat, the only problem is the actual game bits aren't all that much fun.
  5. Scribblenauts is an example of what can be achieved when you put aside HD, Hollywood effects and cinematic cut scenes to concentrate on innovative gameplay instead. An instant classic, and new contender for Game of the Year.
  6. Scribblenauts is a game that will be remembered for a long time. It’s a genesis event. In the history of games, there are few moments where a new genre appears; few dates where something truly novel is given to gamers. Scribblenauts is a birth. It’s Wolfenstein 3D. It’s Mario 64. Scribblenauts is Street Fighter.
  7. 92
    One of the most original games of the year.
  8. Scribblenauts is hugely ambitious, and the odd bit of buckling under its inventory has to be forgiven.
  9. Like LitteBigPlanet before it, Scribblenauts invites players to express their creativity in ways I never imagined. It’s one of my top games this year, and a DS game that has near limitless appeal.
  10. 87
    Even though I harp on the clunky controls, I'm still a huge Scribblenauts fan and fully believe that, even with Maxwell's awkwardness, this game is one of the top titles on the Nintendo DS platform.
  11. Scribblenauts can easily fill in the blanks as one of the most unique gaming experiences that anyone can have this year.
  12. Scribblenauts is a terrific toy and a decent puzzle game. Its ambitions are bigger than the tiny screens that house it. The clumsy controls and ill-simulated nouns don't break the game as much as they fuel frustration, but as a toy and a portable game, Scribblenauts succeeds even if it doesn't exceed its big aspirations.
  13. 85
    While there are certainly limitations and frustrations, this is freedom in puzzle solving like we’ve never seen before. While we wouldn’t necessarily say the game is fun, it’s certainly engrossing, certainly important and certainly worth playing.
  14. A brilliant premise which offers hours of fun, but ultimately falls foul of its own ambition. [Nov 2009, p.92]
  15. 82
    Scribblenauts will make you think, even if it's only to realize the name of that one particular object you need. It starts out easy, but gradually, the challenge becomes greater. It's a lovely game for those who are on the road or when there's nothing on the television again.
  16. The staggering originality of Scribblenauts makes it a great experience and a memorable puzzle game that will have you laughing with glee while you frantically think up crazier and crazier ideas.
  17. There is a whole lot of potential inside Scribblenauts, but the game never fulfills its promise to the fullest. It is an incredible achievement that you can come up with countless solutions to the different puzzles, but the poor way Maxwell responds to your commands frequently ruins your creative solutions. Therefore, you will only enjoy the game when you accept the fact that frustration and creativity are inseparable in Scribblenauts.
  18. All this being said Scribblenauts falls short of expectations through a lack of polish and some pretty horrendous action controls.
  19. Evaluating Scribblenauts is difficult because, in spite of its numerous flaws, it never skimps on content to work with or play through, it encourages gamers to interact with friends and family for new ideas, and it provides one of the first (if only) titles to engage a gamer's imagination like no other.
  20. You'll need to find creative ways to ways to solve the game's puzzles while it finds creative ways to frustrate you.
  21. There are those who will pick up Scribblenauts and love it completely. However, I fear that there are those who will hate this game, because once you look past the brilliant gimmick and innocent charm, you see a rough game with bad controls and a sense that things just could have been done much better.
  22. 90
    Even with the flaws in Scribblenauts' controls and the level editor -- which only allows you to make levels for use on your own card, and not share them with others -- it holds a special place in my heart for being the most fun I've ever had improving my vocabulary. It is, dare I say, the best piece of edutainment since Math Blaster.
  23. Scribblenauts is a great proof-of-concept that struggles under the weight of its own ambition and the expectations that resulted from its uniquely exciting premise.
  24. There's a lot to be mined out of the core gameplay mechanic here, and I think everyone will find that Scribblenauts does wonders for your imagination.
  25. 83
    You get a wholesome puzzle game in Scribblenauts, with challenges that may well last you longer than you think, but it's not perfect.
  26. While it’s reassuring to find that human ingenuity is too varied to be cataloged in a tiny DS cartridge, it doesn’t make for a very fun game.
  27. Scribblenauts succeeds in being an incredibly creative game. It just isn’t enjoyable after the effect of its initial charm wears off.
  28. 100
    Scribblenauts is the video game equivalent of your first kiss: it's awkward, it's sweet and it's utterly memorable.
  29. LEVEL (Czech Republic)
    Test your mind in this unconventional puzzle solving game. The only limit is your creativity and imagination – maybe you’ll surprise yourself with solutions your brain can think up. [Nov 2009]
  30. games(TM)
    5th Cell has managed something very difficult: creating a game that's at once simple and also incredibly complex, and doing so with such composure and charm that you'd be doing yourself a great disservice not to give it a go. [Nov 2009, p.104]
  31. AceGamez
    This is an essential purchase which is fit for burst play on the go and, control niggles aside, this is as charming and addictive as they come, with potentially staggering replay value as long as your imagination allows it.
  32. Scribblenauts stands apart from the usual assortment of puzzle games, thanks to its charming design and wealth of possibilities. Don't let it fly under the radar. Go out and buy a copy right now.
  33. Edge Magazine
    It delivers on 5th Cell's unlikely conceit far more capably than expected, and fulfills a blueprint so bizarrely ambitious almost nobody believed it was possible. [Nov 2009, p.92]
  34. 70
    Squeezing so many items into the game and having each one act how (and beyond how) the player expects is amazing.
  35. Scribblenauts is a great idea, with some questionable execution, and some laughable design decisions.
  36. Regardless of its flaws, Scribblenauts is a fine title. It may be over-hyped, but it’s still worth playing.
  37. As it stands, its raw imagination will be offputting for some gamers, while invigorating to others.
  38. An enjoyable but flawed game. Some moments you think it’s the best thing on earth, when you think up an object that you thought couldn’t help you solve a puzzle but you suddenly use it in an inventive way. Other times you will be bored thanks to the reuse of items or frustrated with the loose controls.
  39. 70
    If you can conquer the sloppy controls, Scribblenauts is a good enough game.
  40. It opens up new ground for puzzle games as it forces you to think what item is needed to solve the puzzle and then to conjure it by writing the word in-game. There are some problems with the control and some people may find the levels repetitive even with all the variation that comes with the right imagination.
  41. Scribblenauts is the perfect example that having an excellent idea is not enough to create a great game. The revolution we expected from this game turned out to be just a nice experiment.
  42. The problem is that you can find the game frustrating playing it and you can't find a real cause to play it and to encourage a different approach to the gameplay.
  43. "Scribblenauts" is not a terrible game. It brings something new to the DS and is really fun at first. But as you progress you’ll be wishing more and more that you could simply control the hero with the D-pad and that those damn kids would stop singing "get the beat" or whatever it is they are saying.
  44. Nintendo Power
    Amazing...This might be the most creative game I've ever played. [Nov 2009, p.81]
  45. 90
    Scribblenauts is one of the best games on the DS and the most imaginative games to be released since LittleBigPlanet.
  46. Nintendo Gamer
    Fight past the awkwardness for an indispensable original. [Dec 2009, p.58]
  47. Scribblenauts is an incredible game. The concept is original, brilliant and really funny. It succeeds to mix platform and puzzle in one great gameplay and this make the player free to experiment with his fantasy in all the 200 stages. Scribblenauts is suitable for everyone and everyone will probably have fun in this crazy, funny and fascinating world.
  48. Scribblenauts might have a few problems, but the positives outclass the bad.
  49. 85
    Ultimately, what starts as a giggle-inducing breath of fresh air eventually gives way to such a near-insurmountable level of head-scratching challenge that many budding scribblers will slam shut the DS well before unlocking all ten of the game's themed worlds.
  50. 85
    Among all the worlds shooters, action adventures and fantasy RPGs, that a game like Scribblenauts should come and capture the imaginations of gamers and game journalists all over the world is truly delightful.
  51. Scribblenauts is a masterpiece. A flawed, frustrating, brilliant, masterpiece.
  52. The only thing holding back Scribblenauts is the DS. The reliance on the touchscreen hampers what would otherwise be the best new games franchise this year.
  53. Hail to the developers who made Scribblenauts to an innovative, challenging game! I recommend this game to all players above the age of 12 years!
  54. Scribblenauts is a charming game to be sure, and the sheer level of work that went into the game is indeed impressive. Unfortunately, there are some gameplay quirks and frustrating issues that prevent it from being the classic that it should have been.
  55. Scribblenauts is one of those games that no matter how the visuals and sounds are, if the gameplay delivers, everything will be fine. Although it has several issues with the controls due to an over-sensitive touch screen, the game’s imaginative and funny nature isn’t hugely affected. In the end, you won’t regret the purchase.
  56. There are only a few shortcomings in Scribblenauts, but they are not enough to spoil an incredibly original gameplay, which will put the player face to face with his/her own imagination. In fact, the more imagination you put into solving its riddles, the more this game will surprise you, one level after the other.
  57. All in all, Scribblenauts is a game to praise.
  58. The game is challenging and equally rewarding, and its flaws are forgivable, I really hope I’ve managed to convince many of you to give this game a go as it is truly a diamond of a game albeit one which has yet to be refined.
  59. 80
    Scribblenauts is about as high-concept as a game comes, and delivers remarkably well on its creative premise. However, some control frustrations and limited level design hold it back just short of true greatness.
  60. Don't believe the hype: Scribblenauts is a fun and innovative idea that isn't perfectly supported by a great game. After the "wow factor" of the first hours of play, you'll quickly understand that this is not the revolution of gaming.
  61. An exciting new path for the Puzzle Games.
  62. The title screen alone offers up more fun than the missions portray and the clunky controls will only leave those impatient gamers reeling from the inconsistent layout. Scribblenauts is a brilliant idea that offers up plenty of fun for anyone with a creative mind, and despite some technical flaws, is well worth a sit-down for anyone looking to have a good time.
  63. With such a strong concept, it could have been one of the better games of the decade. However, the lack of polished execution has led to merely an incredible concept wrapped inside a shell of control issues that make it difficult to enjoy.
  64. In some ways, Scribblenauts is a great success; its primary conceptual design elements are unarguably pioneering achievements in gaming. In other ways, however, it falters, primarily in the playability of the game it offers within the playground it establ
  65. If you are prepared to deal with many annoyances but seek an original and mostly enjoyable play experience, you'll be well served by Scribblenauts.
  66. 70
    So if you can put up with the weak control scheme, there are some truly inspiring moments that can occur. Scribblenauts had such a huge vision I can't help but love it, and although sometimes it makes me want to throw my DS across the room, I'm still glad I spent the time playing it.
  67. Scribblenauts' amazing amount of content is only let down by the techology that powers it.
  68. Ultimately, Scribblenauts is a novelty but little more than that.
  69. Simply one of the best puzzle games to ever grace a handheld and a must get for any puzzle game fan, and the sheer amount of different solutions each puzzle can have will keep you playing for a very long time.
  70. It's so unique, revolutionary, and positively delightful that it more than makes up for all its shortcomings. And with a built-in level editor and the ability to share levels with others, the challenges are nearly endless.
  71. With some tweaking and structure Scribblenauts could have been one of the best games of the year. As it is, it's merely adequate.
  72. As far as puzzle games go, Scribblenauts is one of the best and will have you entranced by its cute and creative nature.

Awards & Rankings

#6 Most Discussed DS Game of 2009
#18 Most Shared DS Game of 2009
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 112 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 69 out of 112
  2. Negative: 11 out of 112
  1. Sep 6, 2010
    Though i didn't spend much time with the game, It is very fun and has some very creative puzzles. I was actually surprised on how expansiveThough i didn't spend much time with the game, It is very fun and has some very creative puzzles. I was actually surprised on how expansive the vocabulary was in this game. You can literally put in almost anything that is not inappropriate or overly religious. Again, the puzzles are very creative but i spent most of my time messing around in the main menu just messing with the variety of things that i can create. This is a truly expansive game that i could spend so much time playing. Full Review »
  2. Oct 29, 2010
    Sloppy controls, and easily cheated levels. the 2 points off my review. Everything else? Flawless. The entertainment value of watching a pandaSloppy controls, and easily cheated levels. the 2 points off my review. Everything else? Flawless. The entertainment value of watching a panda riding another panda wearing a top hat, is simply ingenious. Full Review »
  3. DME
    Sep 24, 2010
    The idea behind it was good, but execution wasn't. Graphics were "blah". Sound was decent. Controls were just awful. Puzzles were fun atThe idea behind it was good, but execution wasn't. Graphics were "blah". Sound was decent. Controls were just awful. Puzzles were fun at first but then got real boring. There are certainly worse games on the DS, but even so, I don't recommend this one. Full Review »