Have you ever experienced a moment when you've attempted to draw an object or animal and your family or friends identify it as something else? The odds are very good as, in a nutshell, that's what Pictionary is all about. Scribble, by indie developer Bear Box Media, is essentially an enhanced digital version of the classic word guessing game. On first glance, the title's offerings might not look like much - and feel all too similar - but upon closer inspection there is a barrage of content and game changers also referred to as "mutators" to keep the timeless formula feeling fresh.
Scribble for the Wii U eShop caters to 2-8 players - making it an accessible party title for all ages and skill levels. Arguably, unlike a lot of traditional video games on the Wii U, the GamePad in Scribble is actually put to constructive use. The inclusion of the device never feels forced. One player draws on it, while other players use the television to guess what exactly the drawing is - it is indeed a modernised version of Pictionary. Once a round is finished the GamePad is passed on; it's that simple.
The 1500 word library in Scribble can cover just about anything including objects, animals, hobbies and even landmarks. Basic words may be "kite", "ankle" and even the "Golden Gate Bridge". There are also more challenging ones based on film & literature like "Edward Scissorhands"; there are admittedly some you may never solve. If more difficult words prove too much of a challenge there is an easy mode that can be activated at any time. For added enjoyment, players can also create and add new words to the game with the word creator mode - this allows a group to create themed sessions based on popular topics such as movies, games and other subjects of interest. This word creator adds to the seemingly limitless nature of the title.
There are several game modes on offer in Scribble that keep the core concept intact. Versus mode has players working towards the highest score after a set number of rounds, and the team mode is a similar setup. Barricade and Tug 'o' Draw are more interesting. In Barricade, teams must reach the opposing team's side of a tile grid by guessing words. In Tug 'o' Draw players must be the first to a certain amount of points. Every time the opposing team gets a word, a point is removed from your own team; this mode can last forever, according to the developer. A lot of these modes also utilise a timer, which adds a sense of pressure to both the drawing and word guessing; again, it's all a solid recreation of what people love about the original drawing game.
Modifiers, also referred to as "mutators", put a twist on the classic idea of Pictionary. When active, mutators add an increased level of challenge for the person drawing. Blackout covers the canvas up on the GamePad's screen, meaning players have little idea of what exactly they are drawing - provided they don't look up at the television screen. Groundhog plays catch-up with drawings, and will delay what is displayed to the audience on the television. Mirror swaps the input movement of the stylus, making left the right way, and right the left way. Flip, flips the canvas upside down, and the mirror flip modifier combines the two, making drawing a nightmare. All of these modfiers add an extra level of difficulty and can create some fun moments for friends and family.
The toolset provided to create drawings in Scribble is as expected. There is a blank canvas, a small selection of pen tips to choose from, and standard colours including red, blue, yellow and a few others to help you illustrate each word. There is also a doodle mode where you can brush up on your drawing skills. In terms of music, there is a tune that plays in the background on repeat while participants rack their brains trying to draw or guess what a drawing is. It's not presentation to blow anyone away, but it's all competent and does the job.
When effectively utilised, the Wii U GamePad is a great way to entertain a crowd of friends or family. Bear Box Media has been able to capture the unique controller's brilliance by adapting the classic word guessing game, Pictionary. Admittedly, Scribble is unlikely to win over anyone seeking a more traditional video game experience, while its appeal is perhaps a little limited by its genre. What is on offer, though, can be enjoyed by everyone.