The goal of writing these strategy guide reviews is not to discuss whether one needs the guide to complete the game. Every gamer has different strengths and skills, and one may need every bit of a guide, another may need to look up information for quick assistance once, and another may laugh at the idea of ever using a guide, even the online freebies. My goal is to review whether the guide is 1) helpful in the first place, 2) does it encompass gamers who need hand-holding as well as those who need a quick reference and 3) how much information does it really have.
The Scribblenauts Official Game Guide is not like other guides as the game is unlike most other games. There are no maps or character biographies, just walkthroughs for the Puzzle and Action levels. However, it has some unique concepts, so without further adieu, onto the review.
This is the only section of the guide that resembles other guides. All of the basics of gameplay are covered, which is a bit short since the game is pretty much controlled by only the stylus. However, this section also covered the various categories of the objects that Maxwell can summon, such as weapons, ropes, flight accessories, swim gear, etc. and the various categories of object interactions. The latter is the most important as sometimes it isn’t obvious what the objects can be used for. For example, it may be obvious to summon a dinosaur to attack a lion, but it may not be as obvious that Maxwell can also ride said dinosaur.
This section also lists all the possible rewards a player can earn while solving the puzzles and provides 21 tips for successful gameplay. Personally, I wish I had read these 21 tips before I played half of the game. It would have made some frustration slightly less.
The walkthroughs are divided up into the 10 worlds with the puzzle levels listed before the action levels, which makes quick searches for the right puzzle quite easy to do. For each puzzle, the walkthrough details what Maxwell needs to do, which is extremely helpful for the not-so-obvious action levels. To the side of the explanation is a list of word ideas to use to help Maxwell snag the starite. It’s not a complete list, just suggestions, and extra spaces are even included for players to fill in their own successful ideas. Some of the walkthroughs even include a crazy solution idea, such as summoning a black hole to do the dirty work or turning enemies into frogs.
The only gripe about the walkthroughs is that not all of the word solutions writer Catherine Browne offers will work due to the unpredictability and random actions of the NPCs, especially if they all have to be kept alive to snag the starite. They have a nasty tendency to suddenly hurl themselves over the edge of cliffs or run toward ferocious animals that somehow got free of the cage you built to contain them. So the word solutions offered are really more of word guidelines for players to follow in solving the level initially and in challenge mode.
The guide provides an extensive Word List, but it’s not a complete lexicon of the game, which makes one wonder why bother including it at all. Hardly any of the words in the list are not already listed in the word solutions in the walkthroughs. Browne explains that all of the words in the list are those that she knows will solve puzzles, leaving out all of the zany words that the development team included just for a chuckle. Again, one has to wonder why include the list at all if none of the words are different than what is found in the walkthroughs.
Although that is a rather weak bonus, the guide includes a few other goodies, including advice from the 5th Cell development team for the game’s level editor, an interview with the 5th Cell team, a concept art gallery, an adorable tear-out poster, and space for players to make their own notes about the game. While all of these are great little bonuses, none are really an incentive to rush out and buy the guide for the bonuses alone.
Now if the word list was complete, that would be a different story.
The Scribblenauts Official Game Guide is a little weak in the bonus department, but it does what it set out to do: provide helpful information to solve Maxwell’s various puzzles in an easy to find format. Therefore, the guide gets a 4/5.