October 14th, 2010


Non-toxic, unless you swallow it, touch it, smell it, look at it...

I found a huge nest of baby lady bugs outside.  Normally that would be a good thing, but last winter we had a REALLY bad lady bug infestation inside the house, so I wanted to nip this in the bud.

I didn't want to use anything too terribly toxic, because it's outside and the sheep or goats might get to it.  We've got a bottle of poison specifically designed for use on animals.  It contains permethren, an artificial pyrethroid, which are generally harmless to mammals (except cats).  I noticed the box brags that the spray has a baby-powder scent.  Then I noticed in the warnings that you're not supposed to inhale the vapors.

If you're not supposed to be smelling it, why make it a pleasant baby powder scent?
Star Raiders

Sometimes game designers learn from their mistakes

For those who don't remember, Scribblenauts was supposed to be one of the greatest video games ever made.  It had a library of tens of thousands of objects you could summon and combine in virtually infinite ways.  Alas, the game suffered from quirky physics and horrendous controls.  You could spend an enormous amount of time creating an elaborate solution to a puzzle, only to have the main character misinterpret a screen tap and throw himself off a cliff or casually blow himself up.

I am extremely pleased to report that 5th Cell seems to have learned from their mistakes and have fixed all those issues with their sequel, Super Scribblenauts.

The game physics have been greatly improved.  In the original, connected objects tended to flail around.  If you attached a chain to a stick, your character would trash about like he was insane.  Placing a magnet on top of a car would cause the car to fly off the screen and disappear.  These flaws have been fixed in Super Scribblenauts.  Gravity behaves more normally and things no longer float around when attached to each other.

Even more important, the controls have been fixed.  You now have the option of using the stylus or the D-pad.  If you decide to use the touch screen to move, you'll find that Maxwell isn't jumpy like in the original game.  He keeps his feet on the ground unless he needs to jump and he doesn't run off if you accidentally tap the wrong place on the screen.  You also can no longer accidentally drop objects; tapping on yourself brings up a menu instead.  You can now take objects away from NPCs, something you couldn't easily do in the original.  The camera also stays wherever you put it, instead of returning to Maxwell automatically.

The new version of the game adds adjectives to its already enormous dictionary.  So now instead of merely summoning a "car", you can be specific and summon a "blue car", a "small car" or a "wooden car".  You can use multiple adjectives, so you can even summon a "small blue wooden car".  On one puzzle, I tried summoning a "romantic dinner" and ended up with a steak with heart thought balloons.

The hint system has also been improved.  Hints cost money, but the amount required decreases the longer you keep trying at the level.  Eventually the game will provide the hints for free if you try long enough.

In the original game, there wasn't much incentive to be creative with the objects you summon; I ended up using "wings" on almost every single level that required flying or climbing.  Super Scribblenauts on the other hand rewards originality.  Each new word you use gets you money, so it pays to break out the thesaurus.

Super Scribblenauts is everything Scribblenauts should have been.  It's a shame the designers didn't get it right the first time, but at least they learned from their mistakes and got the sequel right.
  • Current Mood
    pleased pleased
  • Tags