Valve’s Steam Summer Sale went live yesterday, and like most people with too much time on their hands and not enough money, I panicked upon seeing the ridiculous number of deals available. I knew that if I ended up delving too deep I’d never come back up again, so I settled for one game and one game only: Scribblenauts Unlimited. It took me all of ten minutes to break the game.
Scribblenauts is a deceptively cute game with surprisingly deep gameplay. It’s a puzzle game that rewards creativity and encourages problem-solving. The main character, Maxwell, has a magic notebook that can make things appear if they’re written down in it; if you need a ladder to get a cat out of a tree, you simply type “ladder” and poof, you’re on your way. Unfortunately you can also bork your game pretty well if you happen to be a bit too creative.
I was puttering around the first area of the game and I came across a sad, lonely cockroach. I figured that I would make his day by giving him a friend, so I typed “female cockroach” in my notebook and dropped it down, but the next thing I knew there were a whole bunch of little cockroaches all over the screen. This was a problem because I felt like I was contributing to the pest problem in the game, so I immediately thought of ways to fix the issue.
Instead of going the smart route and making myself some bug spray, I decided to get creative and wrote out “zombie” in the notebook before setting it loose, figuring it would eat the cockroaches. This was a bad move on my part, as it didn’t eat them but only infected them, so I now had a billion zombie cockroaches running around the city. I hurriedly deleted the first zombie but at that point the damage had been done: my army of zombie cockroaches began attacking all the other people in the city, biting them and infecting them as well. Soon the entire place was filled with zombies of all types as I watched, horrified, and unable to contain the carnage I had unleashed in my foolishness.
Luckily, the makers of Scribblenauts anticipated just this sort of tomfoolery and included the option to reset a given area without losing your progress. Eventually I had to resort to doing just that, removing the plague of zombie cockroaches and their bipedal minions. The shameful evidence of my blunder was wiped out, but I will carry the sight of those tiny little undead bugs swarming over that city, devouring everything in their path and leaving only rotted, shambling husks in their wake. It was a grisly, terrifying sight. I loved it.