Scribblenauts Showdown (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 19.03.2018 2

Review for Scribblenauts Showdown on Nintendo Switch

The Scribblenauts franchise has been running for over eight years now, since its debut on Nintendo DS. A series of games that offered to bring to life anything the player could imagine. Well, almost. Gotta watch out for those trademarks. The series saw mascot, Maxwell, travel through 2D side-scrolling stages filled with various obstacles that had to be overcome by the ingenuity of the player. Enemy in the way? Give Maxwell a sword to defeat them, or summon C'thulu to slaughter them. It was silly but fun and even received a tie-in with DC Comics. This latest instalment, Scribblenauts Showdown, is a departure from that formula. The "Showdown" in the title is in reference to the new focus: a versus mode party game between players and CPU.

Upon opening the game, there are three different modes available to choose from: Versus, Showdown!, and Sandbox. Sandbox is closest to the original nature of the game and by far the most fun part. It's a series of stages filled with various characters and creatures, with some hints of how to keep those characters happy. Head into a strange zoo and try to please the animals and the guests, with hints like "Find the missing cub that's in the wrong exhibit" or "Help hatch the egg." They are all rather simple puzzles that can quickly be solved in a variety of different ways. There are nine different sandbox stages to take on, with a handful of riddles for each, and the dictionary list in this iteration allows for 35,000 items to be summoned, making for plenty of different solutions for every puzzle.

Screenshot for Scribblenauts Showdown on Nintendo Switch

This is a pale imitation of everything that made 5TH Cell's series special, though, instead focusing on mini-games. There's an entire mode dedicated to them in "Versus." This offers a focus on a specific type of games, a set amount of rounds, and to play against either another player or vs. CPU. For multiplayer, duelling Joy-Con can be utilised, and in freeplay mode, each and every mini-game can be played individually. There are 25 different mini-games to take on, including flying helicopters through tight spaces to land cargo on targets, a dance-off rhythm game, smashing piñatas, speed eating, throwing creations at competing towers of trash, and plenty more. The majority of these are brief games with little to set them apart from what has been done countless times before and they are nowhere near the levels of games like WarioWare, Bishi Bashi or Rhythm Paradise. There's certainly nothing special or addictive here. The games make use of the various functionalities the Switch offers. In handheld mode, this mostly means tipping the Switch back and forth for the gyroscope inside. In docked mode, the Joy-Con can be waggled and shaken in various ways for those who enjoy such things.

Screenshot for Scribblenauts Showdown on Nintendo Switch

On the game mode front, the final option is "Showdown!" This is a board game style mode. Think a third-rate Mario Party. Each player gets a hand of cards and they take it in turns to play them and move along the board, and first to reach the goal wins. The majority of the cards give a set amount of spaces to move attached to a specific mini-game, the winner of which gets to move. There are also special cards that allow movement without winning a mini-game, force other players back a few spaces, or similar type moves. The game allows for 1-4 players with various difficulties but, ultimately, it's just a different method of playing the same disappointing mini-games.

Screenshot for Scribblenauts Showdown on Nintendo Switch

Regardless of the mode, the controls are horrendous. There is a series of letter wheels to punch in the words to spawn creations, which is decent enough, but the rest of the controls are horribly clunky - in both handheld and docked mode, as opposed to the usual handheld and touch controls. That's mostly because this was clearly made for a console experience and a controller, with it being the first in the series hitting for the first time on PlayStation and Xbox, too.

Outside of the game modes, there are two other options from the main menu: Awards and My Scribblenaut. Awards would likely be the achievements or trophies on the other platforms but since Nintendo has still yet to add some sort of achievement system to Switch, they are just accessible via the main menu. It's the normal stuff: play a set amount of the different games, win a match without losing a round, achieve specific conditions within each mini-game, and so on. Achieving certain awards opens up new items to buy in "My Scribblenaut" that can be bought with the series' currency of Starites. This allows the player to create custom Scribblenaut characters to use in the game, customising specific features, outfits, and accessories, and even the vehicles used in mini-games.

Screenshot for Scribblenauts Showdown on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 4 out of 10


It's always good to try something new but, conversely, it doesn't always work. Here, it really doesn't work. Scribblenauts' charm was always in challenging the players to use their imagination and their diction to come up with fun and original solutions over the obvious or the mundane. While there's still some of that in Scribblenaut Showdown's Sandbox mode, it's too little to truly enjoy and too much focus has been placed on the mediocre party games instead. Even for the low cost, this is a considerably disappointing entry into the series.


Shiver Entertainment


Warner Bros





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Our member of the week

This was the moment where I would have loved to get a proper Scribblenauts game that I could enjoy both on TV with a wireless keyboard and portably with the touch screen to type in words. It's always fun I feel to play these games on a larger screen with friends around giving their input and ideas while to play it in solo it fits more a portable experience. Sadly, since it's not really a proper Scribblenauts game, I'll pass, yet again.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I'm gutted about this. It's a shame things seem to be bad for 5TH Cell. I'd love that team to make a proper Scribblenauts again, rather than some random team that has no prior experience with it. This is just a pure cash cow to milk the existing fan base, which is such a shame.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

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