5th Cell’s and Iron Galaxy Studios' Scribblenauts Remix [$4.99] is a work of utter genius. Think of a noun, type it in, and then the game conjures whatever you chose to aid you in a puzzle. Need to find a way to reach a button on a cliff above the sliding door it controls? Hop on a pegasus. Want to bury a dead man? A stylish coffin, a shovel, and a spot of dirt will do the trick. Remix's brilliance is in its ability to let you use any tool to solve any puzzle. It cradles creativity unlike any other game, and Remix isn’t shy about letting you play in its world, to create all the fire-breathing dragons or toasters you can handle.

If you said Remix is a Best Of port of Super Scribblenauts and Scribblenauts, you wouldn’t be wrong. Remix is the sum of those core experiences with added touch controls that can, in some instances, feel inorganic. It strikes me as more of an upgrade, though. The game engine has a noticeably sharper look and feel, extraneous movements and navigation elements have been stripped or streamlined, the play is generally snappier, and some new levels have been thrown in for good measure. While 5th Cell didn’t re-invent the wheel with Remix, it did bother with the balance, weight, and treads on the thing.

The setup goes like this: you, as a curious boy named Max, are thrown into dozens and dozens of puzzles or challenges that all revolve you satisfying certain objectives with nouns or the use of adjective and nouns. The progression is incoherent -- in one level you’ll tune a race car, in others you’ll carry around a dead man, set up a school for the first day of class, or hide a lion in front of a magic show’s audience. The constant is the gleaming Starite, which is your reward for fulfilling all what is required.

The majority of scenarios aren’t really the hotbed of creativity that I’d love for them to be. Sure, you could conjure a winged dragon or a vampire in the school house level, but what the game is going to credit you for are the basics: chairs, desks, podiums, and all of that rather dull school-y stuff. There are some significantly more open experiences to be had. The first level, for example, simply charges you with sniffing out the actual Starite in a tree filled with impostors. I used a flamethrower against the tree to burn everything out of it because I’m a jerk, but it totally worked.

I can go either way with the duller scenarios. Most of the time, I use them as extra encouragement to think outside the box. Sure, I could give the hairdresser scissors, but wouldn’t it be a funnier if I gave her an exceedingly more creative object to snip her client’s hair? Some of the more open levels, on the other hand, do require critical thought. Creating a mass extinction event without asteroids is harder than you think. If you ever get stumped, the game does a decent job with its hint system giving you all the teases you need to succeed while still not robbing you of those glorious “A-Ha!” moments.

Like in other Scribblenauts titles, you’ll need to do a measure or two of moving, probably most often to mount that flying dragon you just created. The touch controls function well for the most part. A simple tap to the levels borders steers Max, while shakes remove everything you created and two-finger swipes allow you to look at the map. Actions like jumping and climbing are automated to maximize your leisure and sharp radial menus handle all the “remove or give object” kind of functionality. The iPad’s regular virtual keyboard is your magical conduit to the game and noun creation.

Probably the best thing about Remix is that movement is important; it’s the creation. And what you can do almost magical. Want to watch God fight a T-Rex? Make it happen. Want to see what happens when you throw a caveman or a toaster into a pond with a shark inside of it? Go ahead. The casual disregard of the actual objectives is actually an empowering side-mechanic that really, somehow and someway, allows you to experiment and conjure alternative solutions to the fairly simple problems the game might throw your way.

The introduction of adjectives and the adjective-leaning puzzle levels really flesh out the experimental play. In one level, for example, you’ll be asked to make a man into a dragon with some mad genius potions. Thinking of which attributes you think are important to dragons and then applying them to potions is nothing short of entertaining, just like the game’s open and sandbox-y world. If you want to do it, you probably can. It’s insane and great all at the same time. It’s indescribably fantastic to wield so much power.

It’s pretty cliche to write in a game review, but I really think you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not checking out Remix. It’s an utterly fascinating game that isn’t afraid to put significant power in your hands. It utterly embraces creativity and brims with extremely satisfying moments and stories to share as a result.

Publisher WBIE could have easily had this phoned in and still made stupid amounts of money, but it didn't; this is a rock-solid pseudo-port that plays extremely well on mobile and displays a measure of technical and mechanical grace none of us expected it to. Oh, and it's Universal and supports iCloud saves across devices -- icing on the cake, folks.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://twitter.com/minimaxir Max Woolf

    It's going to be $0.99 in less than a month. It's true, unfortunately.

    • Anonymous

      If you buy it at $4.99 (and enough other people do) it won't have to be!

      • http://twitter.com/minimaxir Max Woolf

        It's not a matter of "have to be," it's a matter of "We can make more revenue by dropping the price to $0.99 than keeping it at $5, but we'll price it at $5 first so the people who are desperate for a good game can buy it first."

        It's supply/demand plus price versioning. It's how all iOS games end up.

      • Alexei Baboulevitch

        Not true! Some of the better games are still priced at $3+, just like the day they were born. (Battleheart, World of Goo, Carcassonne, everything by Illusion Labs, etc.)

      • Joshua Young

        Except Battleheart has had price drops and so has World of Goo. Not many.

        But it still happened, heh.

      • Anonymous

        Wrong, I got Battleheart free a while back and the universal version of World Of Goo for 0.99 earlier this week.

      • http://twitter.com/aagold3 Aaron G

        Darn, I bought World of Goo for the IPad today for 4.99. The ipod version was 2.99.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GHIIHTRJXIOZCAF2GESNKZH264 himanshu

        Really? I check prices of my wishlist games every week... Didn't notice it.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

        Square Enix never gave us a discount on Chaos Rings until there was a sequel.

    • http://twitter.com/starksimon Stark

      You were right. The game is only 99 cents today :)

      • http://twitter.com/minimaxir Max Woolf

        Huh, fancy that. Less than a month even!

        *goes and buys*

  • http://twitter.com/rareware Ray Kerce

    True, but it is awesome.  So I put the money down. Very cool.

  • Anonymous

    The amount of value in this package is astounding. 

    Don't pass up on this if you're even remotely a fan a puzzle games.  Super Scribblenauts on the DS was freaking awesome.  This is that, plus the first game, PLUS extras....FOR FIVE BUCKS!  Deal of the month if you ask me.

  • Anonymous

    I really wish there was a lite version so I could try this game out, I don't usually buy games on my IOS devices for this price unless they're REALLY good.

  • http://twitter.com/cheapfighter cheapfighter

    i loved this on the ds and willing to give the ios version a try after your review. well worth the 4.99 if it's half as good as the ds version.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Childish-Chris/100002824610274 Childish Chris

    Too many games this month will get this in a few weeks

  • http://twitter.com/back2this Sean Yuan

    Game of the Week and already at number 7 for paid games! Get this now.

    @back2this:twitter 

  • Jason Oakley

    I bought this and it's on my iPad and iPhone. It does not sync level info to the cloud. I'm on world 3 on the phone and starting it on the iPad I'm locked at world 1.

    • Anonymous

      Every app should be universal and they should all sync to the could.

    • http://twitter.com/michael_one Michael

      Both your iPhone and iPad need to be updated to iOS 5 for iCloud to sync your game save. Should work once you update!

  • Anonymous

    I never played this on DS so I decided to give it a shot on my iPhone today. Then a hydra killed god and I rode a dragon. 20 min in and I already got my $5 worth!

  • E_Domina

    Great surprise if you ask me. It sounds like a lot of the DS community are heading to iOS for this now

  • Anonymous

    I knew it would come to the AppStore sometime or another. Never owned either of them for the DS (although I did borrow a friends copy). The sprites look so much better now. I wanted to take a break from buying games from the AppStore, but I guess I'm gonna have to make another exception to get this.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_P2B7I5HEQHKW4NKMDWOMRZCZAY Rae

    I was so happy this  came out after weeks of crap. So unexpected and I hope more ds developers come to ipod. 

  • http://twitter.com/mikeful/ mikeful

    Only $5? :o

    Have to check this...

  • http://twitter.com/izzynobre izzynobre

    So how exactly do we make it sync to iCloud? My game on my iPhone didn't load on my iPad...

    • Martin Clifford

      Pretty sure only iTunes purchases sync to iCloud.  At least I was unaware of game saves being sync'd.  That'd be cool.

  • Daniel Zhang

    Stupid question but does this game work on 2nd gen ipods? i really hope it does

  • Jon Farthing

    only fifty levels - much less than the DS version and I finished it in a couple of hours

    • Martin Clifford

      only five bucks - much less than the DS version and some people complain about anything

      • Jon Farthing

        The price isnt the point - I would rather pay more cash for a full port rather than this very watered down version

      • http://nihilistsguide.tumblr.com/ Nihilist's Guide

        Exactly. It's five bucks because it's so dumbed-down and short. A total of 50 levels, and they're mostly the super-easy levels from the DS version. So what if I can finish a level with a different spawned item? What's the appeal in replaying the same level and spawning a flamethrower instead of a chainsaw? The end result is the same.

        I feel a bit ripped off. I have 99-cent games on my iPad that are FAR more complex than this, and they have a lot more replay value. It's a good game, but it feels like an INCOMPLETE game. It needs at least twice as many levels, and it needs to be WAY more challenging. 

        I suspect this is the entry point for in-app purchases, and that after an update, they'll offer us a level pack in the future for another five bucks. I won't pay it. 

  • http://twitter.com/dowerchin Dower Chin

    It's a nice port, and seems pretty fitting for the platform.

  • Anonymous

    Aaaand, of course I can't get it because it's not available to me. When will companies stop with these stupid virtual borders..?

  • Tom Ho

    bought it and love it. I only have ONE gripe though. Move the bloody pause button somewhere else! I keep pressing it accidentally when I go to pick up an object. Has anyone figured out how to pan across the stage without moving?

  • Tom Ho

    bought it and love it. I only have ONE gripe though. Move the bloody pause button somewhere else! I keep pressing it accidentally when I go to pick up an object. Has anyone figured out how to pan across the stage without moving?

  • Tom Ho

    bought it and love it. I only have ONE gripe though. Move the bloody pause button somewhere else! I keep pressing it accidentally when I go to pick up an object. Has anyone figured out how to pan across the stage without moving?

  • http://twitter.com/MauricioM Mauricio Meirelles

    Why it's not avaiable in Argentine / Brazilian App Store?

    They don't want to sell it for "monkeys" from South America? :P

    I want to spend 5 bucks on it, but I can't...

  • http://twitter.com/RyanYDing Ryan Ding

    I must have missed something. Why can't I find the star ratings for this review? Touch Arcade have 5 star ratings and I saw them from some of the old entries.

  • http://twitter.com/rianf Rian Fowler

    Works great on my friends 3GS. On Retina is awesome.

    I created a little Max Jobs for my Android friends. http://i.imgur.com/MVkKJ.jpg

  • http://twitter.com/thomashaugen Thomas Haugen

    Does anyone know when it will be available outside the US?

  • Peter Cervantez

    I hope Advance Wars gets on the app store soon. It's one of my favorite GBA games.

  • http://twitter.com/Sqmppq Samppa

    Android version please? I played this for a while on my friends iPhone, and it was probalby the best mobilephone game I've played! There weren't too many new stages for a guy who had cleared both of the DS games though, but it was really fun!  Wish I could get it to my Xperia Play too... D:

  • Anonymous

    Keys open Doors.

  • Gatada

    Not available in Norway, sadly.

  • Taylor Blair

    when iu bought the 2cd expansion pack it broke and so did my frienmds

Scribblenauts Remix Reviewed by Brad Nicholson on . Rating: 5