This generation of consoles has seen a resurgence of party games and while the vast majority of the titles at hand have come straight from lesser known indie studios, with limited experience and assets, others came straight from big developers, and even bigger publishers. We are now at a point, where even Sony itself has invested a large amount of its budget into the Play Link series, which is all about social experiences, which use mobile phones instead of standard controllers. However, Sony while sanctioning all of its Play Link titles, decided to develop new IP, instead of infirming on its well-established franchises. While such approach allowed the Japanese giant to build new franchises instead of running the ones already in existence, it has ultimately not translated well across to other firms.

Warner Brothers, as a video game publisher has been featured in the gaming media quite a bit and while all publicity, is good publicity, then it has to be underlined that the press attention which WB has received in recent months, it has been bordering on catastrophic. In search of redemption, the gaming division of the company, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment has decided to ditch the AAA approach to gaming, and go for a much smaller, party-oriented experience, but one based on the highly established franchise of Scribblenauts.

Scribblenauts Showdown, is the newest addition to the titular franchise, which unlike its predecessors is all about competitive experience, which pitches players against each other in a variety of modes. Both the versus mode, and Showdown are what one would typically called the meat of this particular digital dish, as they are all about the abovementioned party-like interaction.

The title’s versus mode, as the name suggests, is all about pitching players against one another in a series of challenges, in a best of X contest. The Scribblenauts series has been all about words and literacy in the past, then the same cannot be said about Scribblenauts Showdown, as this particular title favours action based mini games, over the Scrabble-like battle of minds. The choice of words, heavily contributes to all in-game mini-games, it is ultimately so simplified, that it could be said that the game technically plays itself.

In the Wordy type of the versus mode, you are given a subject, and are inclined to form a word which suits it best. However, you do not have to write the word down yourself, as 9/10 times, you just need to pick a couple of letters, and then a pick any word you desire from a lengthy list. The simplified process of the word searching significantly cuts down the downtime between rounds, it does take away a lot from the overall enjoyment of the title. As even a two-year-old child can mash the buttons while waggling the left stick and end up with a ten-letter-long word.

The simplification of the process, ultimately makes the title feel like it does not belong in the Scribblenauts franchise. As when the push comes to shove, Scribblenauts Showdown is simply all about action based mini-games. Which are the same for the versus mode, as well as the Showdown component of the game. If not for the fact that Showdown takes place on a Mario Party like board, and uses cards to spice up the gameplay, then it could be said that there are no differences between the two, as the core mechanics, are persistent throughout. All mini-games are exactly the same for both modes. The mini-games themselves, just like the title as a whole, can be a little hit-and-miss. On one hand Scribblenauts Showdown features a plethora of exciting and thrilling mini-games, such as a Flappy Bird ‘esque runner, where one only has to use the left stick and the controller’s face buttons. But on the other, it is also filled with monstrosities, which are not fit for any party, as they force one to rely on rather inconsistent motion controls, which are simply to inaccurate for the nature of the mini-games within which they feature.

From start to finish, Scribblenauts Showdown, is all about the titular Showdown mode, but unfortunately the said mode, is probably the most disappointing feature of the entire game. Because it is just an average game type, which is being dragged down due to some questionable game design, and the stomach churning motion controls. Some will surely get some playtime out of the said mode, just like they will from the Versus component, they will most likely only play it to unlock levels for the rather excellent sandbox mode, which just like the previous, core Scribblenauts titles, is simply all about literary challenge, exploration, the most importantly the good ol’ fun, which the core components of the title unfortunately lack.

If Scribblenauts Showdown were one of a handful of party games, available on current gen consoles, then it would probably be the game to go to. However, we are at a point, where the market is oversaturated with the titles of this kind, and it is possible to get games such as Hidden Agenda or the Knowledge is Power for less than £5. Hell, if you are a PlayStation Plus owner, then your consoles library is probably already full of games such as Sports with Friends, That’s You or TowerFall Ascensions. The sheer over-saturation of the market alone, shows that while Scribblenauts Showdown may be a good game, there is simply not enough room for it, especially at its current price point of £34.99.

Scribblenauts Showdown, is not a bad game by any means. In fact, it is much more robust, and complex the vast majority of the abovementioned party games. However, for every single thing which it does well, it does at least three in a manner which may upset some potential customers. If not for the fact that it requires as many as four controllers in order to be played at its optimal capacity, instead of mobile phones, then I could even go as far as to recommend it to you. But the sheer logistical challenge which the need for four controllers presents, and the steep entry point, ultimately prevents me from doing so.