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Choose Your Own Adventure video game: Scribblenauts

Choose Your Own Adventure video game: Scribblenauts

Just when you thought nothing good could come of your kids' antisocial obsession with their Nintendo DS*, here comes Scribblenauts.

With the tagline "Write Anything. Solve Everything," a bookworm will quickly learn to love this game. The premise is simple. You help Maxwell reach the "starite," or star, on each level by giving him the tools to get to it. You provide the tools by writing an object on the notepad, and then it appears in front of him.

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So you have to save the kitty from the tree? You can write "ladder," allowing Maxwell to climb the ladder and pick up the starite. Or you could write in "lumberjack" and "axe." A bearded man appears, the tree comes down, and so does the cat. Or write in "mouse," and the cat will chase the rodent down the tree. Or ... you get the idea.

There are more than 200 levels, with plenty of opportunity to use your imagination. Of course, there are limits to the objects you can write into the game: Proper nouns and vulgarity are the biggest no-nos.

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And so what if your spelling is slightly off? The game suggests what you might have been trying to spell, like a less-annoying version of Google's "did you mean ...". For kids who are struggling with spelling, or reading in general, this game could be a big boost. And if they like this game, you can suggest a few books they might like, as well ...

If you don't have kids? Trust me, the game is fun for adults, as well.

* Full disclosure: My boyfriend and I both have a DS, and have been known to sit within 6 inches, completely ignoring each other. Video games can do that to otherwise loving human beings.

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